Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Curmudgeonly but caring
Conifer’s Dick Burrows wasn’t shy about sharing his view of the world
By Barbara Ford Staff Writer
Conifer’s favorite curmudgeon has passed away, taking with him a talent for keeping everyone from politicians to those working on environmental causes on their toes. Richard W. “Dick” Burrows died at his home on Oct. 25. He was 81. The name Dick Burrows graced many a message and voice-mail left for Jefferson County government officials, recreation center proponents, real estate agents and developers. Dick’s wife, Vivian, said he always tried to understand both side of an issue. “He stood up for what he believed in,” Vivian said. Vivian said that at one time she saw his letters criticizing political decisions or players because he asked her to correct his File photo by Barbara Ford | The Times grammar and spelling. When spell-check came along, Vivian’s editing days were over. A file photo of Dick Burrows taken in 2009. Frequently, as the pair read newspapers at He worked as a research scientist at the their mountain home, he would quietly pass outdoors and adventure. In 1950, he pedaled University of Denver Research Institute and his fat-tire bicycle through all 48 states. her a paper with yet another published letter later as a research science assistant at the Vivian said they both loved to climb, and to the editor signed “Dick Burrows.” he had climbed about half of the fourteeners National Renewable Energy Laboratory in “He didn’t write letters to get his name Golden, from which he retired in 1995. in Colorado. In fact, they met on Quandary in the paper,” Vivian said. “He felt people “He didn’t have a degree, but he could tell Peak near Breckenridge. Vivian and a friend should be on the ball and be more aware.” the engineers what to do, and he was usually were on a hike up the 14,265-foot peak one Vivian estimates he wrote as many as two right,” she said. January day in the early 1950s, and they met letters a month, though he took summers off Dick on the ascent. from his letter-writing campaigns. “It was such a terrible day,” Vivian said of Wit and wonder “Something would come up, and he the bad weather that closed in on them. Vivian said that behind all the letter needed to tell the world what he knew,” she Dick persuaded Vivian and her summitwriting was a caring heart. Dick was deeply said. obsessed friend to retreat to safety even concerned about the environment and “He didn’t think he was very important, though Vivian’s friend didn’t want to go staving off development in Conifer. He also but he didn’t care what people thought back down the mountain. As usual, his cared about his family, animals and making because he knew he was right.” persuasiveness won out. sure things in his life were done right. They were married on July 25, 1952. Pictures placed around their home show A long and busy life He attended the University of Denver Dick smiling at his two beloved grandchilDick was born May 22, 1930, in Houston dren, and Vivian said he became a different and grew up in Florida. He came to Colorado around 1957, but Vivian said he refused to graduate. He didn’t want to become someone person when they were around. He always in 1950. He served in the Air Force during who did nothing but write scientific papers; had plenty of time and patience for them. the Korean War from 1952 to 1956, and was he wanted to be hands-on with science that He loved being around kids, and decades stationed in Morocco. he loved. ago, he took inner-city kids on long hikes to Vivian said Dick loved Colorado, being
show them mountain wonders. In 2009, he participated in a project at West Jefferson Middle School called Gathering Conifer’s Stories. The project brought together students and longtime residents who told stories of their lives in the Conifer area. The students then wrote stories based on the tales. Dick told a story of an old cornice found on his property, along with abandoned chimneys. Dick said he enjoyed the project, but in true fashion, he had suggestions for making the project even more “successful.” Dick’s hobbies included spiders, bats, the weather and woodworking. Spiders and bats intrigued Dick, and the couple would travel around Colorado gathering different kinds of spiders and running tabulations on bat populations in an effort to preserve endangered bat species. Dick volunteered with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and began working with entomologists who cataloged spiders. Dick collected data from their home weather station that eventually became part of the permanent record for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He turned over the last of his records just a month ago. He helped design and build their passive solar-energy house that sits on 20 acres, and up to the end of his life, he was still taking down trees and using a chainsaw. Dick’s ashes were spread on the property he loved so much.
Vivian said Dick had many friends, and stacks of sympathy cards fill a large basket in their living room. To his friends, he was a caring man who loved conversation and discussion, and those friends made his final days sweeter. As was Dick’s preference for attention to detail, he oversaw his final memorial, a bench that he picked out and placed near a pond on the Burrows’ property.
MRC seeking donations to help needy families for the holidays By Barbara Ford Staff Writer
The Mountain Resource Center is offering a basket full of ways to collect donations of toys and food to help local families in need have happy holidays. The need continues to grow, and that is apparent with the 330 requests for food baskets that have already been received from families along the 285 Corridor. St. Laurence Episcopal Church, which organizes food basket distribution in conjunction with the MRC, has reached the church’s quota. “Even though our quota is filled, people should still contact the MRC,” said Joyce Conrey, the food basket distribution organizer. Jill Lovell, the MRC’s workforce/thrift store manager, said the center won’t have a lot of holiday cheer to offer families along the 285 Corridor unless people start giving soon. “We’re in bad shape (gift-wise), but we haven’t started the drive yet,” Lovell said, “and without
support, some families in the community won’t have Christmas.”
Two events seek donations
Two fund-raising events are planned this week: • Raven’s Holiday Hoe Down is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 19 at Raven’s Restaurant, 25577 Conifer Road. There will be dinner and line-dancing lessons provided by the Chassis Lassies All Girl Car Club of Denver. The cover charge is a toy or gift card for kids ages
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infant to 17 years old. Dinner is barbecue beef brisket, potato salad, pork and beans, apple cobbler, and a coupon for one drink, all for $15. Western attire is encouraged. A portion of the food sales goes to benefit the MRC, and all toys and gift cards will go to children at the MRC’s annual Holiday Party on Dec. 19. “This will be so much fun. Come up and kick your heels for a Please see MRC, Page 5
Conifer residents and MRC volunteers Betty Raich and Melba Neel wrap boxes for toy donations for families in need along the 285 corridor. Photo by Barbara Ford | The Times