Robert Augustus Bürgin Jr. (Bob) was born in Savannah, Ga. on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1938. His life on this earth ended peacefully at his Walker Valley home on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Preceding Bob in death were his parents, Robert A. Burgin, Sr. and Theo Taylor Burgin; his brother, Dr. James B. Burgin; in-laws: Robert B. Wilson, Sr. and Mary Moore Wilson; brother-in-law, Robert B. Wilson, Jr. (Patsy); and many dogs that he loved deeply.
Surviving Bob are his wife of almost 60 years, Mary Tim Wilson Burgin of Cleveland; his daughter, Lynn Burgin of Bloomington, Ind.; grandchildren: Cole Swany of Bloomington, Ind., Noah Swany of Bloomington, Ind. and Victoria Swany of Nashville; nephews: Robert B. Wilson, III (Sherry) of Cleveland, James B. Burgin Jr. (Hilary) of Knoxville, Ted Burgin (Sarah) of Knoxville and Rob Burgin (Monte) of Knoxville; nieces, Patti Kuhns (Ron) of Ooltewah and Sally O’Grady of Cleveland; sister-in-law, Susan Green Burgin of Knoxville; seven great-nephews; four great-nieces; six great-great-nephews; and four great-great-nieces.
Bob attended Charleston Cumberland Presbyterian Church with his family. He was previously a member of area United Methodist churches.
He graduated from Etowah High School and earned a bachelor of science degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College, studying biology and chemistry.
He led a career in instrumentation design/drafting that began at Bowater Corp. (Charleston) and continued through Rust Engineering (Calhoun), Hensley-Schmidt (Chattanooga) and Olin Chemical Corp. (Charleston). His perfectionism and slow, meticulous work won him the nickname “Bullet” among his friends and colleagues.
Bob loved airplanes and flying with his brother. A train enthusiast, he built an elaborate layout for his Denver & Rio Grande Western model locomotive. He enjoyed surveying land with his vintage transit. Bob could often be found in his workshop, repairing and cleaning his beloved 1949 Willy’s Jeep truck as opera music filled the air and spilled outside. He had a deep appreciation for German composers – Wagner first among them – and he admired German culture, speaking often of his travels in Europe.
Bob used his woodworking skills to build his family’s kitchen table, restore and repair furniture and construct a cabin from an old smokehouse, which he relocated log by log. Originally located on the Wilson-Erwin property in Walker Valley, this smokehouse had once stored country hams that were taken by General Sherman on his March to the Sea. Bob designed and built a beautiful stone fireplace and chimney for the cabin with rocks that he collected from a nearby ridge. Years later, he delighted in preparing the cabin for field trips for the third-grade students Mary Tim taught.
Bob loved nature, especially geology. He spent much of his youth on Starr Mountain and later hiked and camped with family and friends throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He could identify trees with a quick glance. He grew up participating in Boy Scouts, and in later life he served as an assistant scoutmaster. Many of his paintings depict his love of the Cherokee National Forest, Lake Ocoee, and the Hiwassee River.
Bob was a founding donor of the Charleston Calhoun Hiwassee Historical Society. He liked to study and discuss American history — The War Between the States, World War II and the role Charleston, Tennessee/Fort Cass played in the unjust transition of the Cherokee land.
Bob is remembered by his family, whom he loved dearly, as a gentle, quiet soul. In conversation, as in his many endeavors, he carefully measured his words and actions. He found delight and humor in life’s foibles and he was known for his quick and understated wit. His generosity with his many talents enriched the lives of everybody who knew him.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Hiwassee River Heritage Center, P.O. Box 807, Charleston, TN 37310, noting the Robert Burgin Memorial Fund. No service is planned.
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