Burch, Chester James "Chet" ALBANY Chester James "Chet" Burch of Albany passed away on December 31, 2019. He was born on January 24, 1947, in Amsterdam, N.Y. Chet was blessed with the gift of two loving wives. His first wife, Louise, predeceased him in 2013. His father Claude and mother Christine predeceased him as well. His second wife, Diana Maiwald Wight survives him. He is also survived by his siblings, Charles J. Burch, Calvin J. Burch, and Carolyn J. (nee Burch) Bennett; and his nephews, Erik, Mark and Michael. Chet grew up in the Caroga Lake area. Growing up in the Adirondacks was a very formative experience that impacted many pursuits throughout the rest of Chet's life. An appreciation of the outdoors, broad vistas and unenclosed spaces became embedded in his psyche. He was a Boy Scout and attained "Star" rank while enjoying hiking and hunting. When time allowed, he used the family "Kamp" in Caroga Lake that his father built by hand just 10 miles from where he grew up. Chet graduated from Wheelerville School from a one-room schoolhouse in 1965. He went on to college at University of Buffalo to graduate in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering His education did not halt there, as he remained an avid reader, specializing in history, throughout the remainder of his life. He amassed a substantial library over the decades and had lately dabbled in ebooks to conveniently borrowed from the library. Chet worked for New York State Department of Transportation from 1969 to 2003. He had no intention of working any longer than he had to but elected to stay for one more year to assist in his agency's physical move to a new location. He was involved in many important road projects including the redevelopment of Central Avenue, New York State Thruway, the Northway and Washington Avenue Extension. He was also a licensed professional engineer. At his retirement he had attained a supervisory position as a professional engineer two grade 27 in N.Y.S.D.O.T. Region 1 Design Office after which he refused to entertain any more advancement. Chet belonged to the Public Employee Federation and attended rallies. Chet engaged in a life of decades-long enthusiasm, involvement and practical application, often with a touch of fantasy. His membership and activities (which culminated in leadership roles) included: the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) within which he was awarded arms to become Lord James Allen of Concordia and for which he made many alcoholic beverages for competition; the Caroga Fish and Game Club which trained new hunters and meetings; the Save the Pine Bush community group since its inception and for which he helped on many a lasagna dinner; the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association; Black Powder groups: the 13th Albany County Militia, National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association and other Northeastern Primitive Rendezvous events for which he and Louise made a large canvas teepee; Galaxy or empire-building computer games of strategy and tactics (Imperium Challenge, Hearts of Iron and Elvenar) and even earlier Dungeons and Dragons with his close friends. Among his chief activities was participation in church. At the time of his death, he was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Albany, which he and Louise joined when their prior church, Madison Avenue Presbyterian closed. In his years at the Westminster, Chet served on the Board of Deacon (twice), including a term as moderator, and on the board of Trustees. Even more, he was known as the unofficial (but always on duty) church greeter. Supporting his church was important to Chet and he took part in weekly worship, the Kirkin' of the Tartan special worship, Watch Night services, African Mission Night dinners, concerts, mission trips to Ghana (2009, 2011), Tuesday morning breakfasts and more. Chet decided in 2006 that Albany Presbytery should make and send diapers for the large Osu Children's Home in Accra. Chet designed the diaper after talking to Church member Clara Hankins and sent samples to other congregations. Hundreds of diapers were sent to Ghana, including a large number personally made by Chet on his own sewing machine. In every setting, Chet gave the best of himself for the sake of others. It is no wonder he will be deeply missed, even as we give thanks for his life. It sums up many aspects of his life when he said, after having a church member express their gratitude for his contributions to the church, "I tried my best." A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on January 25, 2020, in church and anyone wishing to share their remembrances are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the "Save the Pine Bush" organization at savethepinebush.org
or to Westminster Presbyterian Church. Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 262 State Street in downtown Albany between Dove and Swan. Entrance for parking for the church is at 85 Chestnut St., Albany, NY, 12210. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Tebbutt Funeral Home, Albany. To express condolences and for more information, please visit sbfuneralhome.com
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Published by Albany Times Union from Jan. 19 to Jan. 22, 2020.