Spreading Good News, Fall 2011
Charles Fox, Central Area Manager
It has often been said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Recently I was able to hear a story proving that.
Tom and Mary Burgess, residents of Brookridge Baptist Retirement Community in Winston-Salem, after both having lost their first spouses, married in 1998. Mary relates that Tom was simply getting tired of eating at K&W Cafeteria day after day, so she agreed to marry him.
Tom, a native of High Point, retired in 1993 after nearly forty years in the elevator business. Following graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Navy at seventeen years of age. During this time of World War II, Tom served on a minesweeper in several locations including preparation for the Normandy invasion on D-Day, and also in the Pacific, clearing Tokyo Bay in anticipation of the bombs dropped on Japan. After his stint with the Navy, he attended NC State College, now NC State University, for a short while, dropping out to marry and raise a family. Tom also studied drafting and began work with Monarch Elevator in Greensboro. After ten years, he joined Dover Elevator which had recently acquired Monarch, working there for thirty years. Tom and his first wife raised three children, two daughters and a son and he now has two grand daughters.
Mary Odom Burgess was born in Yadkin County, where she began her primary education. Mary is the last of nine children and lost her mother when she was in the first grade. Her father, a tobacco farmer and part-time minister, died when she was fourteen. A half brother inherited the family farm where Mary lived and worked until leaving to attend college. She attended Mars Hill College for two years then transferred to Woman's College in Greensboro, now UNC Greensboro, graduating with a degree in education. She taught in the Greensboro City Schools for five years, taking some time off to rear four children. She returned to UNC Greensboro and earned a Masters in Counseling. She then worked in the Guilford County School system for twenty-two years.
While in Greensboro, Mary and her first husband worked with Piedmont Baptist Association where they founded the International Student Fellowship. Her husband passed away in 1995 after having suffered several heart attacks.
Tom and Mary moved to Brookridge in 2008. Following a visit from their area manager in 2010, Mary established a charitable gift annuity that will eventually benefit Mars Hill College, Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina, Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina, and Woman's Missionary Union of North Carolina. She has also been a faithful investor in the Church Growth Investment Fund of North Carolina Baptist Financial Services, a subsidiary of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. Both Tom and Mary Burgess are true examples of those who want to make a difference, giving back from their blessings.