Douglas L. Burgess, independent resident at Payn Residence in Chatham, New York, passed away 25 August 2021 at Pittsfield, Massachusetts after a brief illness. Family man, scholar, musician, World War II veteran, business executive, gardener, gentleman, friend, lover of the sea and ocean-going ships, Mr. Burgess was in his 102nd year. His family is deeply grateful to everyone in whose care and attention he settled comfortably to rest.
Among these are Payn residents and staff who embraced him during the past six years. There, while maintaining ties with far-flung family and a dwindling number of long-time friends, Doug found among new friends and activities respite from loss, and opportunities to give of his time and abilities. A highlight in this period was traveling to be with a grandson graduating from and being commissioned an officer at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. For, into the fore of Doug’s thought-life at Payn remembrance of youth had come, especially his love of Navy life. He had enlisted shortly after earning his liberal arts degree, and after a year’s training gone to sea a junior officer on “the Mighty B”, U.S.S. Brough (DE-148). By the time of his honorable release from active duty in 1946, Brough’s wake reached back through voyages in Atlantic, European, and Asiatic Pacific theatres, including twenty-six North Atlantic Ocean crossings protecting convoys of troops and supplies; and at rank Lieutenant(jg) Doug had briefly served as commanding officer of his vessel. His service had continued another eighteen years in the naval reserve, to his resignation at rank Commander.
Arrival at Payn marked transition from twenty-three years of active life in retirement. His home of half a century at Old Chatham—rich with plantings and gardens and associations with family experience, where Douglas had been living alone, he let go. As if in preparation he had, from time to time, left for the solace of a brief ferry-ride across Long Island sound to visit with his brother, or an ocean cruise—including one through the Panama Canal not seen since the transits onboard the Brough. At Old Chatham he had single-handedly cared for his wife Kathryn in her terminal illness at the last of their many years together, surrendering his role to professional care-giving only at last resort. At Old Chatham the couple had kept busy entertaining family and old friends, departing occasionally to visit members of a large and growing extended family, and places across the Atlantic where their English, Dutch and German ancestors had lived.
Douglas’ retirement years had followed a business career dedicated to customer service, in support of the family started with marriage in 1946, but founded on affection, friendship and love reaching back into high-school years. Within three years of marriage, he had entered the field in which he was to toil for forty-three years: business forms manufacture using rotary printing presses. A measure of his talent is the record of advancement: from a beginning managing the sales office of that initial employer; soon adding to his role assisting its president and serving as a corporate officer; and steadily taking on additional responsibilities with that and subsequent employers, along the way moving his family from Long Island to the suburbs and rural countryside of New Jersey. By 1967, he was managing customer service for an Albany business-forms manufacturer and settled at Old Chatham, expressing his love for music as organist for the United Methodist Church of Malden Bridge, New York. At retirement he was president of his own Sutin-Burgess Printing Associates, co-founded in the 1980s with a long-time business associate.
Born at Jamaica, New York on 22 April 1920, he was christened Douglas Lincoln Burgess, his middle name that also of his paternal grandfather, bestowed to honor the sixteenth American President. The wide, wide world Dad’s eyes closed to for the last time is very, very far away from the one that had brightened in the eyes of the little boy his folks called ‘Buddy’ inside the young house on the unpaved Richmond Hill street lined with Norway maple saplings, with sounds from the milk-man’s horse-drawn wagon in his ears.
Pre-deceased by his beloved and loving wife of sixty-four years Kathryn, his sister Geraldine, and his brother Edward. Survived by his sister Adele Hesson of Buena Park, California, his son Stephen Richard Burgess and wife Gayle of Knox, New York, his daughter Elizabeth Jane Galanter and husband Elliot of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, his son John Douglas Burgess and wife Vicki of Canaan, New York, his son David Lincoln Burgess and wife Jennifer Van Amburgh of Old Chatham, New York, ten grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Visiting hours: 01:30PM to 03:30PM on Monday 30 August at French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl, 25 Railroad Ave., Chatham, NY. Burial: 04:30PM on Monday 30 August at Old Chatham Union Cemetery, Shaker Museum Road, Malden Bridge, NY. Memorial gifts may be sent to Louis F. Payn Foundation, 12 Coleman St., Chatham, NY 12037.