James E. Burch, age 84, of Loogootee, Indiana, passed away at 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at The Villages of Oak Ridge, in Washington, Indiana.
He was born on December 5, 1934, in Loogootee, Indiana, to the late Walter and Beatrice (Seals) Burch.
Jim was an Air Force Veteran and was stationed in Duluth, Minnesota, and St. Johns, Newfoundland, during his time in the service. After being honorably discharged in 1959, he returned to Loogootee and began his engineering career. In 1961, Jim and his business partners, Robert J. Elliott and Arthur R. Boddy, bought what is now known as Midwestern Engineers, a business that started with five employees and has since grown to nearly 50 employees at two locations.
Jim’s career included work for Bill Koch, in Santa Claus, Indiana, developing Christmas Lake Village, as well as assisting the Koch’s with Santa Claus Land which is now Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. He worked with various municipalities and entities in Southern Indiana to bring water to the rural areas of the state, including Stucker Fork Conservancy District, a water utility which serves five counties in Southeastern Indiana, and Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District, which now delivers water to nine counties in Southwestern Indiana serving nearly 100,000 people. He worked fervently to provide clean water for rural citizens in Southern Indiana and was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Frank O’Bannon as a result of his efforts. The Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, a water organization representing water utilities throughout the state, created the James E. Burch Steward of the Environment Award. This award is given annually to recognize individuals who protect the environment to assure clean water is available for future generations.
He was an original founder of Bellgrade Developers, created in 1962, with business activities of farming and residential development.
Jim was a former Director of The Martin County Bank which became United Southwest Bank and is now part of Old National Bank. He was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, as well as a past member of St. Vincent de Paul Society.
He enjoyed watching the St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and the Purdue Boilermakers. He loved working on the farm, mowing the yard, and checking in each morning at Midwestern Engineers.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Marilyn (Gootee) Burch, of Loogootee; his children, Chris and Sandy Burch, of Loogootee; Dennis Burch and Joan Zimmerman, of Indianapolis; Richard and Joni Burch, and Susan and Carl Arvin, all of Loogootee; and Leah and Chris Bradley, of Evansville; 20 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; sisters, Margie Walton and Eleanor Wildman; brother-in-law, Gil Abplanalp; and many nieces and nephews.
He was also preceded in death by his siblings, Joe and Eileen Burch, Tommy and Edith Burch, Charles and Bernice Burch, John and Olive Burch, and Rita Abplanalp; daughter-in-law, Ann (Jones) Burch; and brothers-in-law, Omer Wildman and Loran Walton.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the Very Reverend J. Kenneth Walker at 10 a.m., EST, on Friday, September 13th, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
Burial was made in the St. John Catholic Cemetery.
Visitation was held on Thursday, September 12th, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., at the Blake Funeral Home, in Loogootee.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested memorial contributions could be made to St. Vincent de Paul.