John Burgess: Sharp Enough to Cut Through the Glass Facade of Life
On Saturday, John Burgess left the world quickly and peacefully. This left the community in shock…. For such a cantankerous man, we all expected more fuss. But John was like that. He got a kick out of surprising folks. His blue eyes would glitter and he’d grin wickedly when he’d say or do something that shocked someone.
But in spite of his rough side, he was one of the most dependable people we knew. A firefighter for the Salmon Creek volunteers, he never seemed to miss an incident and even as he pushed past 70 years old, he could be counted on to get to the scene ahead of everyone else. He was a fixture at the meetings. In fact, on the day of his death, he attended a training.
Even before he became a firefighter back in the late Seventies, one of his first loves was racing. He won more than one trophy at Redwood Acres. He even built his own racetrack where the neighbors could pit their buggies and bikes against each other.
But possibly more than racing, he loved animals. Gruff with people, he would coax deer from the woods and turkeys to his front yard. For them, he was a protector and his land, a refuge. Animals were safe there.
Now there’s a ragged hole in the Salmon Creek community which won’t be easily filled. After he died, Aeric Stark, the son of a neighbor, wrote the following piece to try and explain his loss to the neighborhood:
Sometimes you meet a diamond in the rough, and sometimes they refuse to be polished. You can only see their shine if you look hard enough. Beneath the rough exterior something truly sparkles. You might only see the dirt and grit on the surface, without ever looking beneath to see what’s truly there. Those that truly see lost a brilliant light today. Someone that was hard and precious and refused to be refined, someone who was always there and sharp enough to cut through the glass facade of life and tell things like they saw it. Even diamonds can’t last forever, everything has its time.
So goodbye you rough diamond whose shine not all could see.
While your light might be extinguished, your memory will never be.
John left behind Carol, his partner of 50 years, his daughter, Annie, his son Jake and an empty fire truck that will never again drive quite so fast to an incident.
You’ll be missed.