URBANA – Dr. Ambrose W. "Tom" Burger, 89, of Urbana passed away at 11:15 p.m. Friday (Feb. 15, 2013) at his home.
A visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, and from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel, Urbana.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at St. Patrick's Church, Urbana.
Ambrose was born Nov. 27, 1923, in Jasper, Ind., to August and Katherine Burger. He married Janice Brandenburg on Aug. 24, 1946. She preceded him in death on Aug. 13, 1967. On Oct. 25, 1967, Ambrose married Phyllis Voorhees Jacob. She survives.
Also surviving are four daughters, Katherine Christiansen of Elizabethton, Tenn., Marie Burger of Schaumburg, Patricia Wente of St. Louis, Mo., and Carol Burger Preston of Danville. He also has two surviving stepchildren, Judy Ann Jacob-Haselhorst of Poplar Grove and Paul Jacob of San Demos, Calif.; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
A.W. Burger was a graduate of Purdue University, where he graduated with "Highest Distinction" and went on to earn a "Cum Laude" at the University of Wisconsin to earn two more degrees.
Dr. Burger taught at the University of Maryland from 1950 to 1953 and was a professor of agronomy at the University of Illinois from 1953 to 1986. A.W. "Tom" Burger was Field and Furrow adviser for 30 years. Fifteen of those years, the Field and Furrow Club won Best in the Nation.
He was a member of St. Patrick's Church, University Club, Knights of Columbus, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge, American Legion Post 71, Squanto Survivor Club and the UI Field and Furrow Club.
Dr. Burger was the president of Holy Cross PTA, St. Matthew's PTA president, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, past president and multiple award winner of NACTA (National Association of College and Teachers of Agriculture).
Tom was an award-winning Army veteran who served under Gen. George Patton in World War II and received a Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster.
On Feb. 4, 2013, Dr. A.W. Burger and loving wife Phyllis Burger were honored with the naming of a classroom in the UI Turner Hall Renovation Project as a gesture of appreciation for all of their years of service to the Field and Furrow Club and the UI.
Tom Burger's favorite goodbye wish to all was to "Keep Smiling," which he will always be known for saying. He never met a stranger and always left people smiling.
Growing up on a family farm instilled the values of farm life in "A.W.": hard work, discipline and responsibility, and he applied these traits in his teaching of crop science.
Burger was deeply interested in his students and as a result of his dedicated and exceptional mentoring efforts, many former students have gone on to achieve great success in industry, teaching and research.
Life was a joy to Ambrose and each day was filled with smiles, laughter and a good joke.
Ambrose was preceded in death by his parents, one sister and four brothers.
Memorial gifts in honor of Dr. A.W. Burger can be made to the Turner Hall Project Fund: Burger Initiative. Funds will be used to renovate a classroom in Turner Hall in the name of Dr. and Mrs. Burger. Please make checks to the
University of Illinois Foundation, 1305 W. Green St., MC-386, Urbana, IL 61801.
Condolences may be offered at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com.