March 23, 1937 — Sept. 17, 2023
Thomas L. Burnham passed away Sept. 17 at Bartlett House in Medford due to complications of dementia. He was 86.
Tom was born March 23, 1937 in Avon, Connecticut, to Frances Gerchman and Thomas Abner Burnham. The family had five kids, and Tom went to grade school at the Pine Grove School, a one-room school which is now a historic site, and graduated from Canton High School as salutatorian. He went on to graduate in 1955 from the University of Connecticut, where he majored in forestry and was president of his fraternity.
After college he went to Colorado, where he spent nine summers working and later managing Vagabond Ranch, a kids’ travel camp, in Granby. He taught high school at Rumsey Hall in Connecticut and at Denver Country Day School before going to Vail, Colorado, in 1963. Tom spent many winters working and skiing in Vail, traveling in the sprin, and working all summer at Vagabond.
He met and married Nancy Loose in Vail in 1966. They moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 1967 where they purchased Valley View Lodge and ran it as a ski and summer lodge for several years. They had two children: Ted in 1969 and Mary in 1973. After they sold the lodge in 1969, Tom ran the Ski Haus and worked in the construction business, forming his own company, Valley View Construction, which he owned and operated until 1985. While in Steamboat, Tom was on the city Planning Commission, was elected to the City Council and was active with the Steamboat Winter Sports Club and swim team. He helped put on the 70th Winter Carnival in 1983.
In 1985 Tom uprooted his family and moved to Ashland, without a job. In a few months he was hired as the plant manager at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and later as facility director at the Rogue Valley Manor. After that, Tom again worked on his own as an independent home inspector until he retired in 2002.
In Ashland, Tom was proud to be partially responsible for the city’s acquiring Oredson-Todd Woods and keeping the historic building in North Mountain Park. He served on the city’s Transportation Committee for many years.
Tom was an active runner for 30 years. He ran in hundreds of 10Ks and half marathons (setting a few local age-group records) and a few marathons throughout the West and later included duathlons to his life, eventually doing more bicycle riding, racking up 7,000 to 8,000 miles some years.
He was an avid hiker and he and son Ted climbed Mount Shasta among other adventures. Tom skied every winter, and enjoyed Mount Ashland along with trips to Colorado, Oregon’s Mount Bachelor and Sun Valley, Idaho.
He and Nancy traveled abroad often during their retirement, with a special month-long trip to Mozambique in 2000 to visit son Ted in the Peace Corps, and a trip to trek in Tibet to the bottom of the north side of Mount Everest when Tom was 70. The Burnhams were fortunate to travel throughout much of Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and Central America.
Tom is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nancy; his son Ted (wife Carrie, her daughter Claire and grandson Cameron), of Kalispell, Montana; daughter Mary (grandson Ryder), of Hood River, Oregon; a sister, Judy, in Santa Cruz, California; and a brother, Michael, in Maine.
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