William C. Burgess was born in the summer of 1930 in Raleigh, North Carolina. A lifelong coach for various colleges and overall family man, his childhood was typical and yet atypical of boys of his era. While slow to learn how to walk and sickly as a child, Bill made up for his physical limitations with tenacity and wit. Upon losing his tooth, he once left a note for the tooth fairy which read “Dear Fairy, Please put a dime on my box for my tooth. If I can’t have a dime, give me a nickel. With love, Billy Burgess”.
As Bill grew up, he blossomed as an athlete and became active in both basketball and swimming. Whether due to his early ailments or simple appreciation for health, Bill was always very health conscious and never missed a day of exercise even as an adult. He also stayed active with other extracurricular activities, serving as camp counselor for the YMCA during his summers of high school and college. His high school, Needham Broughton High, was the flagship high school of North Carolina, and was a fitting place to start his journey into sports and coaching (it just placed 2nd in a national competition for overall high school athletic programs in 2013).
After high school, Bill attended the University of North Carolina, where he received his Bachelor’s in Physical Education and also was initiated into the nation’s most prestigious honors society Phi Beta Kappa. He stayed at UNC and earned a Master’s in Education, after which Bill served in the US Army from 1953 to 1955. After being honorably discharged, he went on to Teacher’s College, Columbia where he pursued his doctorate in education. While there, he met Ann Shuman, whom he married a few years later in 1959.
While at Columbia, Bill taught at a high school on Long Island as well as at Hunter College, where he refined his teaching methods and adapted them to coaching. Two year later, he joined Kansas State Teachers College as professor, head swimming coach and Director of Health Services. Having given two years to that program, Bill moved to California to accept a position as a professor at San Diego State University and organized and coached its first swim team. In 1965 Bill led the Aztecs to their first ever NCAA championship, the first athletic team to win a NCAA national title in SDSU history.
Outside of his career, Bill had 3 children with Ann, and was often called “The House Husband” by her because of how involved he was with the children. He went to every one of their games, and was always signing them up for new clubs and activities. Despite his busy coaching schedule and duties as a professor, he always found the time to be a complete family man, and made sure to iron Ann’s uniforms before she started her shifts teaching nursing students. This December will mark Bill and Ann’s 55th wedding anniversary, a lifetime of marriage throughout which their focus has always been on their family, and the love and support they gave their children can readily be seen through their successes.
While Bill retired from SDSU after 30 years of teaching in 1992, Ann continued to advance in her career and was the Director of Nursing at Grossmont College until she retired in 1997. She continues to be the Admin of a website she developed to support placement of nursing and allied health students for all the major schools and clinical agencies in San Diego. Of their three children, the oldest is now an internal medicine physician in North Carolina, their daughter is a CPA and executive editor for Thomson-Reuters PPC Accounting and Auditing Publications, and their youngest son is a high school teacher, publisher, and author of a widely popular book.
When he was teaching, Bill’s students often remarked on his different kind of humor (he would pretend not to recognize students during role call whenever they came in with new hair styles or dyed hair) and while dating lovingly called Ann a “meathead”, a joke she did not find very funny. Here at Stellar Care, you can still see a humorous glint in his eyes as he walks around, often smiling and chuckling to himself over a secret joke that he can’t wait to share (though he was never one to initiate telling a joke).
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