James Edward Burgess, lifelong newspaperman and advocate for lake quality preservation, died Dec. 20, 2021, at a Madison hospital. He was 85.
Jim was born in La Crosse on April 5, 1936, to William T. and Margaret F. Burgess and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison before serving four years in U.S Air Force. Following his military service, he went to work for Lee Enterprises, a newspaper conglomerate with papers in the Midwest and western states at that time. Since then, Lee has grown to include many more properties, including television stations and other journalism-related businesses.
While a consummate journalist, Jim also nurtured a sense of civic duty, placing him on numerous management boards, including Edgewood College, UW Hospitals and the Overture Center for the Arts on State Street. While not busy with these and other projects, Jim devoted much of his free time to the outdoors, where he and his wife, Cathie, enjoyed their summer home on Lac Courte Oreilles. They shared their outdoor spirit with their four adult children and 11 grandchildren.
Jim was a pioneer in preserving water quality as a founder of the Courte Oreilles Lakes Association (COLA) and became an advocate for clean water and land conservation through this group as well as other area organizations.
Jim is survived his wife, Cathie; their four children, Kary (Jim) Deuel, Peter (Karen Hostens), Sydney (Al McMillian) and Curtis (Donna Peota); 11 grandchildren; two brothers, Stephan (Joan), of Naples, Florida, and Thomas of Hudson.
The family has chosen to hold a service of celebration this summer when all their extended family can attend.
Memorial gifts may be given to COLA, P.O. Box 702, Hayward, WI, 54843 or to the Center of Journalism Ethics, School of Journalism and Mass Media, 5115 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., Madison, WI, 53706.