Merrill Gene Burgus was born on December 17, 1934 to Herbert Lawson Burgus and Lora Mae Stierwalt Burgus. Lora was a school teacher so Gene attended two years of school at Macksburg, while she taught there, before returning to Murray to finish his high school career. Gene liked to be involved in activities while in school. He excelled in basketball and was a catcher for the baseball team. He was also part of the first Chapter of FFA at Murray and served as its first president. After high school he volunteered for the draft and served his country with the United States Army, serving for two years stateside during the Korean War. After his time in the service Gene returned home and farmed with his brothers. In 1959, he decided to do something different, sold out of what he had in farming and went to Colorado to sell cars. In March of 1960, he decided farming was what he wanted to do and he returned to Murray and bought the farm where he and Helen still live today. Shortly after his return to Murray, Gene met Helen Jane Moeller and they were married on December 31, 1961. Gene and Helen had four kids, Herbert John, Kenneth Alan, Diane Lynne, and Sandra, the last, Sue. He told everyone he got married on the last day of the year so as not to ruin the whole year but still have the tax deduction. He liked to tell this story over the nearly 59 years they were married.
Over the years, Gene was very active in his church, school and the Lions Club. He was always willing to help with whatever project needed done, which included serving on various boards, committees and building projects, “because why hire someone to do it when you can do it yourself”. He also coached little league for several years and enjoyed it so much that he sometimes got into the game more than the kids. He loved teaching kids. He attended many, many games of his kids and grandkids over the years. Although he wasn’t able to make every game of his kids, he would often come straight from the field, filthy from doing field work, rolling in on his motorcycle, and you could only see the whites of his eyes, because he was so dirty. But he was there! He taught his kids the value of hard work and never giving up. He often said, much to the kids frustration, “if you’re going to do a job, it’s worth doing it right!” Sometimes jobs were re-done more than once. Another important thing to Gene was raising his kids in the church and teaching them to follow and serve God. He would say if you put God first in your life, things will work out. He taught Jr. High Sunday School for several years, which he says, taught him lots of patience.
In August of 1990, tragedy struck and Gene and Helen lost their 2nd child, Kenny, in an accident. Life was rough for quite some time, but one thing to always remember, God is always there for you, as well as your family and friends. These things helped the whole family survive.
As grandkids came along, they quickly replaced the joy of his own kids as grandkids were awesome and he could teach them naughty things and then walk away. Pretty sure he got each of them in trouble more than once, but never anything too serious. One thing for sure, each grandkid got their first taste of ice cream from Grandpa! This fact applies to other extended family over the years as well. His love of sports also continued through his grandkids and he was very proud of them and was always there to encourage them along the way. His advise may not have been what they wanted to hear, but he was still being supportive.
Gene was always quick to greet people with a smile and of course, a story or two. He loved to visit and definitely had the gift to gab.... with ANYONE!
Those who preceded him in death are his parents, in-laws, son, Kenny, brothers, Curt (and wife Nora), and Junior and brother in law Larry Thompson.
Those surviving Gene are wife, Helen (Blondie); children, Herb, Diane (Kurt), Sandy (Tom), grandkids, Devon, Lexy (fiance, Dustan VanLoon), Christopher Carson, Kenny (Katie) Boles and Kendra Boles. Extended family to include, grandkids, Jacky (Chris) Lucas, Derek (Alexis) Nish, Curtis (Jessica) Nish as well as some extended great grandkids; Brenden and Nic Lucas, Cameron, Lauren, Jackson and Lillian Nish, and Carter Nish; sister-in-law, Dorothy Burgus as well as many other family and friends.