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Remembering John Burchard

John Burchard: Obituary

Burlington Free Press
January 21, 2004

JOHN D. BURCHARD BURLINGTON - John D. Burchard died of heart failure on Jan. 18, 2004, at his home in Burlington surrounded by his family. John was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 25, 1936, and grew up in Olmstead Falls, Ohio, where he graduated from high school as a three-sport varsity athlete in 1954, lettering in football, basketball and track. He obtained his B.A. in psychology from Denison University in 1958, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and the varsity football team. John met his wife of 46 years, Sara Nuzum, at Denison and they were married in 1957. After graduation John turned down a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals football team to pursue his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Nebraska. John began his professional life as a staff psychologist at a treatment center for delinquent youth in Washington state before accepting an associate professorship at the University of North Carolina in 1965. It was there John began to work on what would become a life-long endeavor, developing community-based alternatives to institutional treatment of emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth. John continued that work after moving his family to Vermont in 1970, when he joined the faculty of the University of Vermont psychology department where he continued to teach until only a few weeks ago. Over the course of the next 33 years he became a nationally recognized authority and advocate for the adoption and implementation of communitybased Wraparound services for at-risk children and youth. While in North Carolina John was treasurer of the Quaker Friends Meeting and, prior to desegregation, ran a summer program in interracial living in Winston-Salem under the sponsorship of the American Friends Service Committee. During the Vietnam War, he also assisted with the establishment of a Friends counseling center at Fort Bragg. He continued his social activism after becoming a Vermonter, serving his community as a youth hockey and girls softball coach, a member of the Burlington School Board, a 10year member of the Burlington Police Commission, longtime board member for the King Street Youth Center, co-founder of the Foster Parent Training Program, co-founder of a local group home for behaviorally challenged boys and commissioner of the Vermont Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services. John also established numerous programs for youth, including the area's first hockey equipment exchange, a hockey program for low-income youth, a teen program at Lyman C. Hunt School and the Burlington Youth Employment Program, which he helped start with thenMayor Bernie Sanders. In the past year, John was recognized for his work with youth by receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Vermont Collaboration Conference and the third annual Puppets' Choice award from Kids On The Block Vermont, the latter award prompting Mayor Peter Clavelle to declare April 30, 2003, "John and Sara Burchard Day here in Burlington...and around the world." John was an avid outdoorsman, enjoyed fishing, hiking and canoeing, and loved spending time at the log cabin he built in Huntington. He and Sara traveled around the world, visiting such far-away places as Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Europe, India, Mexico and Alaska, and made lasting friendships with people from different backgrounds and cultures wherever he went. John lived each day to the fullest, always demonstrating a sincere interest in others, a generous spirit, an indomitable optimism and a sense of humor that touched many, many lives. John is survived by his wife and best friend, Sara; his son, John and wife Vicki of Glenview, Ill.; his son, Dan and wife Jane of Burlington; his daughter, Lisa and husband Stephen Boudah of Middlebury; grandchildren, Sara, Elise, Nikki, Tommy and Lia; his stepmother, Ruth Burchard; brother Charlie and wife Ginny of Cleveland, Ohio; and many loving and beloved inlaws, nephews, nieces, neighbors and friends. He and Sara also opened their home to many young people throughout their life together, including, most recently, his good friend Omer Alicic. He was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Elizabeth Burchard; and his youngest son, Charlie. A memorial service to celebrate John's life will be held Saturday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. in the First Congregational Church, South Winooski Avenue, Burlington. A reception will be held following the service at an as yet undetermined location. Donations in John's memory may be made to any of the organizations and causes he supported during his life, including the King Street Youth Center, P.O. Box 1615, Burlington, Vt. 054021615; Kids On The Block Vermont, 294 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington, Vt. 05401; and the Charlie Burchard Memorial Trust Fund, P.O. Box 638, Burlington Vt. 05402-0638, a charitable trust fund established in 1988 by John and his family to remember his son Charlie and to support charitable causes, primarily centered in Vermont. Corbin and Palmer Funeral Home, 71 S. Union St., Burlington, is in charge of arrangements. To send an online condolence to the family, visit www.corbinand palmerfuneralhome.com.