May 24, 2008, 7:02 PM
Post #1 of 17
Charlie Burgess, long a familiar figure at DZs in New England and Florida, died earlier this week after a long battle with cancer. He was the husband of Sally Burgess, who has participated in most of the large RW records over the past decade, and Charlie was always there with her. His exuberant celebration at the 400-way in Thailand was captured by BBC television news and broadcast around the world. Although he had not jumped much in recent years, he was active in the life of drop zones both in his native Massachusetts and in Florida, where he had had an ownership interest in a DZ in the Tampa area. Many jumpers first met him soon after they landed off the DZ, or at the far end of the field; his white van quickly showed up to give them a ride back. Others met him when they were struggling to straighten out a canopy hopelessly tangled after a cutaway, or when they were struggling to pack a new canopy. He quickly took over the situation, straightening out the mess or giving direct, no-nonsense packing lessons. His generosity and kindness were usually hidden behind a gruff, Boston street-wise exterior, often perceived as grumpiness until you learned that he really liked you and really wanted to help -- he just didn't want you to know it. He will be missed. In celebration of his life, there will be a missing-man skydive and circle of remembrance Saturday, May 31 at 5 p.m. at the Pepperell, MA skydiving center. The dive has been designed by Tom McLaughlin. As Tom and Wendy will be in Florida at that time, Tom will organize a similar dive at the same time at Skydive City, Zephyrhills. There will also be a Celebration of Life Sunday Jun 1, at 1 p.m at Magnolia Beach in Gloucester MA.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Home for Little Wanderers 271 Huntington Ave, Boston MA 02115 617-267-3700 http://www.thehome.org/
The DZ will never be the same. Charlie was always around. I first met him when he picked me up from a long spot. He taught me how to pro-pack even though I never asked. He was always helping out fellow jumpers. Great sense of humor too! My thoughts and prayers with you Sally. -Peter Blake
Sally. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. It was always a pleasure to run into you and Charlie. Both of you always greeted us with such a kind, sweet spirit and friendly disposition. I hope you will be encouraged by friends and family, as I'm sure you will greatly miss Charlie. I will tell Annie & Rosalyn. You will be in our thoughts. Love, Olivia
I made a jump with Sally today on a beautiful New England afternoon. I even got a kiss pass -- although she was wearing a full-face helmet. She has read the messages here and appreciates all the kind thoughts.
charlie picked me up in his van after i landed at the far end of the field last month during my recurrency jump after the long winter. it was my 39th jump. the first thing he said to me was, "you fly like shit!"
charlie had followed my canopy from opening to landing, and that comment, together with the knowledge that charlie was watching out for me both in the sky and on the ground, made me appreciate even more just how special a person he was.
i feel blessed to have been "harassed" by charlie and am certain i will be a better skydiver thanks to him. he will long stay in my heart and head.
blue skies, charlie.
sally, you found one hell of a guy. sincere condolences from both me and jeanne.
(This post was edited by chaosreins on May 29, 2008, 4:11 PM)
What I will miss most about Charlie is his sincerity. When he spoke to you, it came from the heart. It didn't matter what the subject; parachutes, yard work or just life in general. He was like that with everyone as far as I could tell. Life long friend or new jumper on the DZ, when you were talking with Charlie or just hanging out, he was always sincere.
I will also miss the way Charlie treated people. He was always helping others. It didn't matter whether it was helping pack a parachute, running down the road in his van to pick up stray jumpers, helping set up a tent, or even helping carry groceries to a barbeque, if Charlie saw that you could use a hand, he always stepped in and helped. You never had to ask for help, because he just did it, and he would never accept the "thank you" that would follow. He treated us all well like that. I'm really going to miss that about Charlie.
I made 3 jumps with Charlie over the last few years. All hop n pops. All unplanned. Just hopping on a last minute load. "Hey you want to launch a two way?" he'd ask; "Sure thing" I'd say, and out we'd go. I say this only because 1) I used to brag to Mary that I had made 3 jumps with Charlie to her O jumps, and 2) because seeing Charlie in freefall reminded me of why we all skydive. Those jumps were maybe 15 second delays, yet every second of the delay, Charlie was grinning ear to ear. It makes me smile as I think back to those jumps.
So those are two of the things I wanted to share about Charlie. Two of the things I will miss the most about him.
Charlie was an original recipe, that's for sure. A real life American Bad Ass, but there was also a kind, caring side of him that Mary and I were fortunate to see quite often when we were with him.
Sally, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Mary and I will be flying up on Saturday for the memorial and service.
Sally, It just won't be the same at Z-Hills without Charlie. He was always helping, especially the new skydivers. He will be remembered for a long time because of they type of man he was. My sincere condolences.