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William H. Burr, 87

William (“Bill”) Hanford Burr of Port St. Lucie, Florida, a former longtime Westport resident, died Feb. 11 in Port St. Lucie. He was 87.

He was born Aug. 28, 1930 in Westport to Morris Lyon Burr and Catherine Aretta Burr.

His grandfather, William H. Burr Jr., was a prime mover behind the installation of Westport’s Minute Man monument, and gave the dedication address in 1910. William H. Burr Jr. came to be known as the “father of Sherwood Island State Park” because of his relentless efforts to make the park a reality.

William H. Burr, who gave his grandfather’s papers to the Fairfield Museum and History Center Library in 2004, was married to his surviving spouse Marilyn Jean Weber on Aug. 18, 1962.

His education and military experience include a B.S. in agriculture from the University of Connecticut and a MBA from the University of Bridgeport. He was inducted into the U.S. Army and served two years as a specialist medical corpsman.

His career in business management brought him to Handy & Harmon in Fairfield and later to Lewis Engineering in Naugatuck, and finally to Bavier, Bulger, and Goodyear management consultants in New Haven, where he remained until retirement in 1996.

He lived in Westport from childhood until 1997 when he and Marilyn moved to Chester. In 2003, they moved to Bozeman, Montana and remained there until their move to Port St. Lucie in 2017.

He believed in giving back to his community and did so by remaining actively involved in leadership roles at Greens Farms Congregational Church of Westport and the United Church of Christ of Chester. 

He regularly volunteered his labor on environmental conservation projects conducted by the Land Trust of Chester. In Bozeman, he maintained a weekly routine of volunteering at the local food bank and tending plants at the Gallatin Gardeners Club.

He loved gardening, had the soul of a farmer, and he loved all kinds of outdoor work. He was a driven do-it-yourself handyman; indeed, he was a frustrated carpenter, woodsman, and homesteader who insisted on doing any size job himself and with antiquated manual tools and equipment leftover from the bygone Burr Farms era of his childhood. 

Of his few allowances for modern methods was his 1929 Farmall B-N model tractor that had to be crank started from the front end. And when he was not growing and putting up vegetable stores (particularly onions) with an intensity that made one believe survival through the winter months hung in the balance, he was sailing on Long Island Sound. 

Neither foul weather nor any number of seasick crew members hanging over the side was a reason for him to consider a day on the water unpleasant. A dousing spray of salt water and vomit he considered a reasonable character building experience for all.

He was not a verbose man and not one to seek public attention. He was fond of a saying: “fools names and faces are seen and heard in public places.”

He was not given to overt demonstrations of intense emotion. Nevertheless, he had a stoic charm that conveyed a genuine strength of character and integrity. He cherished family gatherings, most especially at Christmas.

“He loved us, his children and his wife,” said a family obituary “And we love him. He is remembered with the fondness and respect. He is missed.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three children: daughter Catherine Margaret Burr-Utter, married to Steven Utter; children Nathan Michael Utter and Hannah Elizabeth Utter; son William Osborn Burr II, married to Carole Westhfer; children Thaddeus James Burr and Noah Hanford Burr; and daughter Elizabeth Forrest Burr, married to Dale C. Deutscher; children Bremmer William Mock, John Morgan Mock, and Satari Austin Deutscher.

He has three siblings: brother Morris Lyon Burr Jr. spouse Arlene Davis (deceased); sister Mary Bolin (deceased), spouse U.S. Army Col. (ret.) James Bolin, and sister Aretta Muir, spouse James Muir.

A memorial service will be held Friday, June 8 at 2 p.m. at the site of interred cremains in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Fairfield.

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