Christian 14

William "Bill" Edward Burden

December 31, 1925 ~ June 2, 2022 (age 96)

Obituary

William E. Burden, 96, of Athens died on June 2, 2022. 

Bill was born in Buffalo, NY to Joseph and Theresa Burden. His oldest brother, Robert died in World War II in 1944. His younger brother, Joseph (“Pat”) raised a family and lived in the Buffalo area. Joe died in 2022. After graduating from Williamsville High School, Bill went to Epiphany College in Newburgh, NY to study for the Catholic priesthood. During summers, he worked as a “gandy dancer” on the railroad and hitchhiked and worked his way through Europe, returning to America as a stow-away on the SS Stela Mara in 1947. He continued his studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, DC., where he and some of his fellow seminarians bought a motorcycle together. In 1948 Bill left the Seminary and returned to the Buffalo area but maintained many life-long friendships with many of his fellow seminarians. After settling down and marrying his beloved wife Cecelia (“Cece”), they raised four children together while he pursued a 40-year career with Westinghouse. Bill worked his way from the factory floor to a corporate career culminating in his role as head of Westinghouse’s International Trading Co. where he was instrumental in opening China to American business in the 1970’s and 80’s. A dedicated athlete his whole life, Bill competed in Golden Gloves Boxing as a youth and was a pole vaulter in high school, where he was awarded a letter his freshman year. As a mountain climber, Bill scaled Popocatépetl. He was a swimmer and a runner, competing in races such as the Boston Marathon. Bill completed his second skydive at age 91 with the ESP Skydiving Fundraiser. An avid outdoorsman, he and his wife Cece enjoyed spending time at their son Jeff’s home in Cashiers, NC. Bill enjoyed long walks in the Nantahala Forest and chopping wood until just a few years ago. He enjoyed woodworking and was known for his delightful carvings. Even as Bill’s health declined, he continued to remain active by “strolling” outside in his wheelchair and was a voracious reader. Bill enjoyed giving back to community. He hand-carved the original outdoor benches at Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church in Highlands, NC and helped repair wooden items for the Catholic nuns that resided in Saint Mary’s Highland Hills Village. But what many people do not know about Bill Burden is the extent to which he quietly helped those struggling with addiction and depression through Alcoholics Anonymous and his church. Bill and Cece retired to Ponte Vedra, Fla. to enjoy the sun and sea and were active members of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church. Bill took care of Cece until her health declined to the point where they needed to relocate to Athens. After Cece died, he devoted much time to being with people who were sick or at the end of their life, and who did not have anyone. He was a daily communicant at the UGA Catholic Center 8 am mass where he made many friends who welcomed him to Athens after Cece’s death. Bill was so delighted to learn that his friend Joe Pontzer was from the same town of Kersey, PA as was his family. As Bill’s health declined, Joe faithfully visited Bill until his death. Bill enjoyed the years he lived with his daughter Mary Ellen and Bob, her husband and partner in caregiving. Bill remained dedicated to thinking of others even as he was close to death, when he dictated some comments for his obituary to Mary Ellen, including the comforting statement “you took care of me remarkably well and helped me slide across.”

In addition to his wife Cece and his brothers, he was preceded in death by his son, William Jr.

Bill is survived by his son, Robert Burden of Atlanta, daughter Mary Ellen Quinn (Bob), son Jeff Burden of Cashiers, NC; grandson Dr. Amit Dasgupta (Michelle); and great-granddaughter Nora Grace Dasgupta, who gave him so much joy in the last years of his life.  He is also survived by his many cousins, nieces, and nephews all of whom meant so much to him and he followed so closely. 

The family is grateful for the excellent medical care of Dr. Vasu Murthy. In the last two weeks of his life, Bill rapidly transitioned through Saint Mary’s Health Care System, including the ED, Home Health, Palliative Care and Outpatient Hospice and the family is grateful to the nurses and social workers who cared for him. The family is particularly grateful to Jean Andrews, RN Hospice Nurse for sharing her in depth knowledge, her exceptional clinical skills, and her sincere compassion. 

A memorial mass will be held on Saturday, July 30, at the Catholic Center at UGA at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Catholic Center at UGA, 1344 S Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30605, or by practicing a random act of kindness to honor Bill’s propensity for helping others.

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, WEST, Watkinsville, GA, is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com 

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Services

Memorial Mass
Saturday
July 30, 2022

11:00 AM
The Catholic Center at the University of Georgia
1344 S Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30605
Athens, GA 30605
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