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William J. Burgis

March 20, 1940 ~ January 13, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old

William Burgis Obituary

William (Bill) Burgis passed away peacefully on January 13th, 2024 after a hard-fought battle with Alzheimer’s. Loving husband of the late Marcia (nee Mate), father of Richard (Laura), Jeffrey (Tina) and Jonathan (Jennifer) Burgis. Dear grandfather of Elizabeth, Riley, William, Andrew, Jack, and Brendan. Fond brother to Barbara (Herb) Zuegel and Roger (Michele) Burgis. 

Bill was born March 20th,1940 in Chicago, to parents Charles Richard and Evelyn (nee Held). Bill’s mother became a Chicago school teacher specializing in music instruction and his father became an engineer after both graduated from Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. They later moved to Chicago, settling in the Norwood Park neighborhood to raise their family.

Bill attended Taft High School where he excelled at sports (track and swimming), music and art. He was an Eagle Scout, played trumpet in the Norwood Park Imperials Drum & Bugle Corps and took weekly drawing and painting classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Bill made many friends who shared his interests in music (especially progressive jazz) and cars. Bill was proud of the Model A 1932 Ford roadster that his dad bought him at 14 and that he restored with his brother and friends. Later in life, Bill continued his life-long love of music taking many classes at the Chicago Old Town School of Music (OTS) and learned to play the harmonica. His family and friends were amazed and entertained when all attended his OTS final exam at the House of Blues where Bill and his classmates were the ensemble band.  Bill’s love of music stayed with him always, providing a constant source of happiness.  

Bill attended Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois and earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was a proud member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity where life-long friendships were forged. 

After college, Bill served in the Army National Guard and worked as an automotive engineer for the Fel-Pro Gasket Company where he developed and patented products (e.g. the Diesel “Fire-Ring”) still in use in the automotive and heavy truck industries today. Around this time he started racing sports cars with the Midwest Council of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) at local tracks such as Meadowdale, Blackhawk Farms, Mid-Ohio and Road America. Bill’s skill with a wrench and innate ability to figure out not just what makes the car go, but what makes it go faster, helped propel him and his mighty Triumph TR-2’s, TR-3’s and eventually open-wheeled Formula “V” race cars to numerous trophies and track records.  His stories of gripping the wheel going “full bore” along the top edge of the infamous “Monza Wall” at Meadowdale kept his young audience members (sons Rick, Jeff and Jon) on the edge of their seats!

During his years working in automotive engineering, Bill got involved with the art and science of manufacturing the products he and his team designed.  His natural curiosity and “out of the box” style of thinking led him into the manufacturing engineering element of the business and he became fascinated with manufacturing and automation systems. Within this space, he found what became his life-long professional calling in the conveyor systems industry.  He moved from the world of gaskets at Fel-Pro into the world of conveyor systems (material handling automation) as a conveyor systems design engineer with Industrial Kinetics.  His natural energy, drive and enthusiasm for the projects allowed him to assume leadership and he eventually became Chief Engineer for companies such as Conveyor Smith and Bunting Magnetics.  During his tenure in conveyor engineering, he developed and patented novel concepts like the Accumulating Roller Transfer Conveyor and the Automatic Carton Stacking System.  Bill’s accumulating conveyor design allowed items to queue up without damage, be held in place and then transferred off in a different direction for further packaging or processing.  This innovation is a key element of what makes any modern warehousing or distribution center possible.

Bill moved into the sales engineering side of the business, eventually becoming District Manager and Vice President of companies like New London Engineering and Morrow Equipment Systems where he developed great friendships with his colleagues and clients.  As a distributor for numerous manufacturers, Bill worked out of his Edison Park Office, helping to keep operations going at various plants around Chicago and beyond. As a respected subject matter expert in the field of conveyors, Bill was always excited to meet and assist existing or new clients.

Bill met his loving wife Marcia through mutual friends and they married in 1965. They shared a love for the city of Chicago, enjoying its abundance of music, art, architecture, and Lake Michigan where they kept their wooden boat (“Atilla”) moored at Montrose Harbor. Bill and Marcia enjoyed taking trips to watch or participate in races at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. They fell in love with the beauty of the Kettle Moraine and purchased a cottage on nearby Crystal Lake and formed a group of dear and lifelong friends. Bill and Marcia loved sharing their cottage in Wisconsin with friends and family. After having their first son Richard, they moved from their tiny North Side Chicago apartment to Park Ridge, and Jeffrey and Jonathan were born soon after.

Bill was many things: a loving husband to his wife; a devoted father to his three sons; sweet father-in-law to his three daughters-in-law; and doting grandfather to his six grandchildren. He encouraged them all to do their best in whatever interested them and supported participation in a wide range of activities including speed skating, soccer, basketball, baseball, fishing, Boy Scouts, music, cars, racing, camping, and boating, to name a few.  Whatever the activity, Bill valued sharing it with his family, providing exposure to many diverse interests and cultures. Through teaching his boys to work on cars, how to tackle home (or cottage) improvement projects, or taking on a new professional passion or pursuit, he fostered in them the importance of independence, life-long learning, and perseverance. With his big heart, he led numerous charitable efforts, teaching the importance of always lending a helping hand.

Bill and Marcia were married for 57 years. They enjoyed travel, often including their closest friends for trips overseas. Wherever they went (Europe to visit friends and relatives, driving to the East Coast in their 1958 Porsche for a reunion, Notre Dame tailgate parties, or visiting their out of state sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren) they made new friends and supported each other, irrespective of how difficult it became in later years.  They remained together in their beautiful Park Ridge home for as long as they could, always keeping it warm and welcoming for others.  Bill will forever be remembered for his adventurous spirit, his deep faith, his eternal optimism and incredible resilience throughout his life and eventual battle with Alzheimer’s.  

Funeral Mass will be held Friday, February 9th at 10am at St. Paul of the Cross Church, 140 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge. Private interment to follow at All Saint’s Cemetery in Des Plaines. In lieu of flowers please make donations to St. Paul of the Cross Church, www.spc-church.org, The Center of Concern, www.centerofconcern.org/make-a-donation, or Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/.

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Services

Funeral Mass
Friday
February 9, 2024

10:00 AM
St. Paul of the Cross Church
140 South Northwest Hwy.
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Private Committal

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