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Obituary: Thomas Jay Burgess (1940-2023)

Thomas Jay Burgess (Age 83)
Memorial service info

Thomas Jay Burgess, 83, of Naples, FL, passed away peacefully on July 11, 2023. He was born in Harrisburg, IL to John and Leah Burgess. Tom grew up in Fairfield, IL where he attended Fairfield Community High School and graduated in 1958. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where he earned his BA in History and Political Science and met his future wife, Leslie.

Tom and Leslie married in September 1963 in Annapolis, MD while Tom was serving in the Army.

They later relocated to Lawrence, KS where Tom earned his MA in Public Administration from University of Kansas. Tom spent the bulk of his professional career as the Executive Director of the Reston Association (1972-1992), in Reston, VA. He directed community operations and advised the board on setting policies for the use of the community’s recreation facilities and open space. During his tenure, Reston grew from 11,000 residents to a community of 56,000. In 1989 Reston Land Corporation and the Urban Land Institute honored Tom as one of 10 people who contributed the most to making Reston what it is today. Tom and Leslie raised their family in Reston, instilling in their three children a love of nature and a great appreciation for open space and outdoor recreation.

They later moved to Florida, and Tom served as head of the Sun City Center Community Association south of Tampa, and the Bonita Bay Community Association (1998-2009) in Bonita Springs. Tom was an active member of Rotary International throughout his professional career. After retirement, he stayed involved with fundraising efforts and volunteered with the Rotaract Club at Florida Gulf Coast University, mentoring college students.

Tom was an avid baseball fan, following the St. Louis Cardinals in his youth, then the Baltimore Orioles in the D.C. metro area, and finally the Tampa Bay Rays. His other interests and lifelong passions included world history, current events, travel—both domestic and international, architecture, cuisine, reading, and

time with family.

Tom is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Leslie Burgess, children Joanna Burgess, Galen Burgess, and Jennifer Burgess Welham (husband Wally Welham), and grandchildren, Blake and Jack Burgess and Allison and Nicholas Welham. Tom was preceded in death by his parents John and Leah and his brother John (“Johnny”).

The family will have a private celebration of life and scattering of ashes

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