More Obituaries for Burges Smith
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?

Burges Smith

SMITH, Burges Burges Smith, businessman, husband, father, and life-long resident of Farmington, died Sunday morning, (August 24, 2008), at home in the house his parents built. He was almost 90 years old. Born in October 1918, Burge Smith was one of the eight children of Hilda Johnson Smith and Ernest Walker Smith. Both parents had long, strong ties to Farmington. In the mid 1920's, Ernest Walker and his brother Herbert Knox Smith, built similar large brick homes across from each other on Mountain Spring Road. Burge grew up gazing at plaques in the First Congregational Church memorializing his two grandfathers, Edward Alfred Smith and James Gibson Johnson, who were ministers there. The Farmington Church played a central role in Burge's sense of place in his community. Throughout his life he took on varied roles in the life of the church: Deacon, moderator, as well as 60 years of choir singing. Burge's father died in 1928 leaving his wife to raise their surviving seven children alone. She had a long life as matriarch of her extended family, dying in 1964, at which point Burge and his large family moved back into the family home. Burge went to Kingswood School, then studied and sang at Cornell University, were he met and married Madeline Kerr of New Jersey. He served with distinction as a Navy pilot during World War II. A Lieutenant Commander at 23, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for rescuing downed pilots in the Solomon and then the Philippine Islands. He relished the danger and excitement of these youthful experiences. Singing and music remained central to his life. Beyond college and choir, he sang leading roles with the Simsbury Light Opera during the 1950's. Burge directed the Farmington Christmas Eve Carol Sing on the Farmington Village Green for over 50 years beginning in 1946. Few family gatherings were without song. After World War II, Burge bought a small local tennis court construction company from the widow of its founder, and built Putnam Tennis Courts into a regional leader in quality tennis court construction. He loved developing companies, and at the peak of his career owned and managed Putnam, Hartford Fire Extinguisher, and Universal Lightning Rod out of an industrial building in Plainville. Universal Lightning Rod was a very small company, an excuse, in fact, for Burge to leave the office and serve as the installer personally, climbing on barns and house roofs, and occasionally terrifying his family by scaling tall smokestacks. Burge's life was his family. After the death of Madeline in 1958, in 1961 he married Clare Brett Brown. Clare, a photographer, built and managed first a small craft import company, Primitive Artisan, and later grew a non-profit, Aid to Artisans, into a leading organization devoted to the improvement of the economic lives of artisans in developing countries. Clare's work took her all over the world, and Burge always traveled with her, and served for years as pro-bono treasurer at Aid to Artisans. Together they raised seven children, who remain a tightly knit family. Surviving Burge are his wife, Clare; their seven children: Melissa Knox Smith, Alden Burges Smith, William Thayer Brown, Alexander Brett Brown, Martha Smith Correa, Frances Brown Holmes, and Richard Burges Smith; two surviving siblings, Ernest Walker Smith and Hope Emery; ten grandchildren: Jennifer Mozie, Sara Andersen, Elizabeth Bielitz, Jesse Brown, Malcolm Brown, Elena Clare Correa, Nora Holmes, Ana Clare Smith, Eva Smith, and Stella Smith; and four great-grandchildren: Max, Emma, and Islay Andersen, and Hadley Brown. A memorial service will be held Friday, October 10, at 2 p.m., at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 75 Main Street, Farmington.

Published in The Hartford Courant on Aug. 28, 2008
Read More
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.
Inform family & friends of Burges's passing.