Capt. Wilbur J. Burgin, U.S. Navy (Retired), age 92 of Ellenboro, North Carolina died Monday, April 2, 2018, at Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby. Wilbur was born October 1, 1925, in Forest City and was a son of the late Robert Cheek and Nannie Bell Harris Burgin. He was a native of Forest City and a graduate of Cool Springs High School in 1942.
Wilbur enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 and served in the Korean War. He enjoyed a successful Navy career of 31 years. Wilbur served as the Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of a jet squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence and was later the air officer aboard the USS Shangri-La. He accumulated over 5,000 flight hours and over 500 carrier landings. While in the military, Wilbur earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and in 1968, he attended the Naval War College and earned a master’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. He completed his active Naval career on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon and the Naval Air Systems Command.
In the years following his retirement, he and his wife, Patsy, located in Charlotte where he served three years at South Mecklenburg High School in the NJROTC program. In 1978, Captain Burgin and his wife Pat returned to Rutherford County to build their retirement home in the Hollis Community.
He was a member of the Forest City Kiwanis Club for 38 years where he served as Secretary, President, and Lt. Governor. He was responsible for starting the Terrific Kid and Builder’s Clubs in our local schools. He was selected Kiwanian of the Year and Citizen of the Year by the Forest City Kiwanis Club.
Wilbur’s faith was strong, and he was an active member of the First Wesleyan Church of Forest City. He served as Vice Chairman and Chairman for many years. He taught Sunday School and was a member of the choir.
He was a member of Model A Ford Club of America and served as President of Thermal Belt Model A Club of Rutherford County. He was a member of the McNair Foundation at East Rutherford High School.
Wilbur established and opened the Rutherford County Farm Museum on July 1, 1994, in Forest City. The purpose of the museum was to preserve the heritage of Rutherford County by collecting, documenting, maintaining, and displaying artifacts used by our forefathers prior to World War II. Wilbur’s objective was to educate all age groups about our heritage.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Patsy Miller Burgin, and a son, Robert Ernest Burgin. Survivors include his daughter, Barbara Burgin Vlattas and her husband Nicholas of Yorktown, Virginia, his son, William J. Burgin and life partner Teresa of Ellenboro, a sister, Bette Burgin Gettys of Duncans Creek, NC, and brother, Reverend Dr. Max E. Burgin, US Army Colonel, (Retired) and wife Mickie of Ellenboro. There are three grandchildren, Kathryn Gridley, Kristen Vlattas, and Nicholas Vlattas, and one great-grandchild, Eleni Sarantakos.
Funeral services will be held at 3 o'clock Wednesday in the First Wesleyan Church with Reverend Eric Yelton and Reverend Dr. Max E. Burgin officiating. Interment with military honors will follow in the Eternal Hills Memorial Park. Visitation will be at the church from 1:30 until 2:45 at the church prior to the service.
Memorials may be made to First Wesleyan Church, 700 S. Church Street, Forest City, NC 28043. The Padgett and King Mortuary & Crematory is in charge of arrangements and an online guest
registry is available at www.padgettking.com