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Kathryn Burgess, 90, teacher, passion for history


OLD CHATHAM—Kathryn Louise Stock Burgess, 90, of Old Chatham, died August 14.

She was born May 25, 1920 in Hancock, New York to the late Edwin Christian Stock and Katherine VanAken.


As an infant, she moved to Richmond Hill, Queens. She graduated from PS53 in Richmond Hill, where she received the American Legion Medal of History. She later graduated with honors from Richmond Hill High School. She and her later-to-become husband, Douglas Burgess, gave the Valedictory speeches.

They both matriculated in the second class of what was then the new Queens College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history.

World War II intervened and Mr. Burgess went off to the Navy and the then Miss Stock to the defense plant, Sperry Gyroscope Corporation in Lakeville, New York, to work in director test for the gun directors being built for Great Britain.

Following World War II, they were married August 25, 1946, at the Pilgrim Congregational Church, Richmond Hill, NY.

The Burgesses subsequently resided in New Hyde Park, NY, Hempstead, L.I., Metuchen, New Jersey, Flemington, New Jersey, West Caldwell, New Jersey and for the last 43 years in Old Chatham. During those years, Mrs. Burgess was a substitute teacher in all these school systems, teaching English, history and sometimes French.

Her passion was history. Upon the recommendation of retiring Town Historian Earl Wixon, Mrs. Burgess was appointed Chatham historian by then town supervisor Fran Blake. She served in this capacity for a remarkable 35 years. During those years, Mrs. Burgess learned the history of the area and its inhabitants and began an extensive investigation into the genealogy and movements of the people through the “Funnel of Chatham” from east and south and into the middle of the country—beginning with the formative years of the colonies and the migrations westward into the great country, which it became. She learned that many of her forbearers were among the many settlers of the Kings District, as it was called at that time. Mrs. Burgess concluded that history was people and without people, there was no history, only geology and plate techtonics.

Survivors include her husband, of 63 years and 11-1/2 months, Douglas Lincoln Burgess; children, Stephen Richard Burgess (Gail Sanderson), Elizabeth Jane Burgess (Elliot Galanter), John Douglas Burgess (Victoria Hawkins), David Lincoln Burgess (Jennifer VanAmburgh); grandchildren, Christopher Morgan Burgess, Charles Douglas Burgess, Thomas Allen Burgess, Dr. Meredith Katherine Galanter (Eric Hastings), Joshua John Galanter, Cassandra Nell Galanter (Lenny Judice), Benjamin Avery Burgess, Evan Meade Burgess, Lucy Anne Burgess, and Kristin Emily Burgess; nieces, Jean Auserehl (Paul Soper), Sandra Auserehl (Scott Lundstedt) and Wendy Auserehl (Lance Manus); and grandnieces and nephews.

Her family will receive friends Wednesday, August 18 from 4 to 8 pm at the French, Gifford, Preiter and Blasl Funeral home, 25 Railroad Avenue, Chatham.

Religious services will be Thursday, August 19 at the United Methodist Church, Malden Bridge at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at the Old Chatham Union Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the United Methodist Church Community Center Inc., Malden Bridge, 12115. For directions or to send an online condolence visit,



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