William Gordon Burrow, age 98 passed away on March 11, 2013 at Shands Hospital in Gainesville Florida after fighting the effects of multiple small but cumulative strokes incurred during the week of January 18.
Bill was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on February 17, 1915. He grew up on hospital grounds at Laurel Hill where his father was Lay Warden of the Hudson County Tuberculosis Hospital. He was very possibly the last person to remember the September 1919 World War I victory parade when the 1st Division marched down 5th Avenue. “Billy, Billy,” his mother cried, “there’s General Pershing!” Four year old Billy looked down from his 11th story perch and saw a lot of people on horses. He never did know which one was the General.
Bill was a proud graduate of Jersey City P.S. 25, and Dickinson High School class of 1932. After graduation he became a bank teller at First National Bank of New Jersey and stayed there until he quit the banking profession to enter his adventurous phase for a couple of years. He worked in restaurants at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City and the Everglades Club in Palm Beach Florida where he specialized in salad making. World War II found him back at a bank, this time at Manufactures Trust Co. in Manhattan.
In 1942, he answered the call to duty and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force. He was trained as a photogrammetrist, which is the making of topographic maps from aerial photographs. His unit was the 17th Aerial Photo Reconnaissance Squadron of the 13th Air Force, which was located in the Pacific Theater.
Using his skills learned in the military, in early 1946 he secured a job in the Federal Government with the U.S. Geological Survey, located in the Washington D.C. area. He was introduced to his future wife Ruby by his future sister in law Lois who said, “Here are the four new guys,” as she introduced her sister to the latest new hires. The next time Bill went back home he told his mother “I’ve met the girl I’m going to marry!” Two years later he and Ruby were wed. In 1950 Bill, his wife Ruby, and her sister Lois took advantage of a better offer and moved to the U.S. Naval Hydrographic Office located in Suitland Maryland. He also went to night school at George Washington University and completed three years of college.
When Bill became a Cartographic Supervisor, he and Ruby both mutually decided that Ruby should retire in anticipation of them having a baby. They were successful and neither of them ever regretted this decision. The family moved to the Maryland suburbs. Ruby kept the home going and Bill continued working at the office.
Bill retired from what had become the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office in 1972 after attaining the position of Head of the Stereo Compilation Unit; Naval Charts Division, as a GS 12.
Bill had always dreamed of retiring to South Florida, as a result of family vacations as a child, his salad making days in Palm Beach and doing his basic training in Miami Beach! But Ruby put her foot down. She wanted some change of weather. Well there is this place called Gainesville. It’s at the north end of Florida, plus our son can go to school there. Forty years later they were still living together in the same house.
Their life in Gainesville has been immensely satisfying. Much of it centered on their church. They first attended Ridgeview Baptist, and then joined Grace Baptist Church at its founding. They were long time members of the Baptism and Visitation communities, and only age prevented them from continuing. As a matter of fact, one of the people who have been visiting them is the daughter of someone they visited. So the favor is being re-paid.
They have never had a need for ostentation, and lived frugally. They went on a few cruises, a number of tour bus trips in Florida and one grand trip to Europe. They enjoyed them all, but most of all were happy being together at home.
After a brief hospital stay some months ago, Bill was brought home by one of their friends. As he walked in the door, he said, “I missed you Ruby!” She replied, “I missed you too.” All who knew him will miss him.
William Burrow was preceded in death by his father, William Harris Breeden Burrow, and his mother Azelda Aurora Frederika Gronbeck. Also, two sisters Ruth A.Burrow and Florida E. Quartier. Also not forgotten is grandson Baby Ethan Burrow and their own unborn child.
Survivors include wife Ruby McMullan Burrow of Gainesville, son Richard G. Burrow, daughter in law Kelly S. Burrow, grandchildren Emily R. Passaro, Jason A. Burrow, and Daniel G. Burrow, all of Deltona. Also, he is survived by his sister’s son Phillip Quartier Jr. of Boston; and the Mississippians; one brother in law and one sister in law, plus five sons and four daughters of Ruby’s siblings. The Mississippians welcomed the Yankee into their extended family from the beginning, and gave him a sense of family he otherwise would not have had due to the early deaths of his sisters.
Services will be held at Grace Baptist Church, 7100 NW 39 Av. Gainesville, on April 6, 2013, presided over by Pastor Jim Riley. Visitation will be at 10:00 A.M., services at 11:00 A.M. and lunch at the church at noon.
Bill has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Heart Association of choice in loving memory of Florida E. Burrow, and the Tuberculosis Association of choice in loving memory of Ruth A. Burrow
The family would like to thank all of the Shands Hospital employees who cared for William Burrow during his time at their facility. The care and comfort they gave to him and his family will not be forgotten. You all were the epitome of good medicine and good bedside manner.