THOMAS REEVES BURGISS - OBITUARY
Thomas Reeves Burgiss, 89, of Laurel Springs, NC passed away on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC.
Tom was born on May 14, 1931 in Elkin, NC to Thomas Roy and Lora Reeves Burgiss, the first boy born in what was then the brand-new Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.
Tom graduated from Sparta High School in 1949 and the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy in 1953 where he received the Order of the Old Well his senior year in pharmacy school. After serving in the Army during the Korean conflict, Tom began his career as a pharmacist, living and working in Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, Elkin, and Taylorsville. He married the love of his life, Nancy Kathryn Waddell of Sparta, in 1957. In 1969, Tom and Nancy returned to Sparta to take over his dad’s pharmacy, B & T Drugstore, and move to the family farm in Laurel Springs. In 1970, he opened Drugcare of Alleghany (the current site of The Pizzeria), which was a community center for medicine, advice, vet needs, gifts, sundries and good food. Following in the pharmacy footsteps of his father and sister, Tom was highly active in his chosen profession. He was a member of the North Carolina Pharmaceutical Association and served as its president for a year. Tom received many prestigious awards during his pharmacy career, including the A.H. Robins Bowl of Hygeia Award, the Pfizer Inc Community Pharmacy Services Award in 1971, the Syntex Practitioner – Instructor of the Year Award in 1979 and the Distinguished Service Award in 1980 from the UNC School of Pharmacy. In 1984, he was awarded the NC Pharmacist of the Year by the NC Pharmaceutical Association.
Always an innovative and progressive thinker in the pharmacy community, he was among the first to chart a patient’s drug history, primarily to combat drug interactions; in 1977, his pharmacy became the 2nd computerized pharmacy in the state. He mentored dozens of pharmacy student interns from the School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill in a program that he helped design, and he lectured there many times as an adjunct professor. Additionally, Tom was the hospital pharmacist for Alleghany Memorial Hospital and later opened Drugcare of Currituck and Drugcare of Moyock on the coast.
Always a tireless promoter of Alleghany County, he was one of the original ten investors in establishing and running the Alleghany Inn. He also served on the Alleghany Board of Education and was one of the principal founders of the Alleghany Chamber of Commerce. He worked with John Woodruff and helped initiate the Alleghany Education Foundation as he loved to see young people succeed. He was a member of the Elkin Jaycees and awarded Young Man of the Year in 1966. Tom was also a member of the Sparta Lions Club and served on several local nonprofit boards. Two years ago, Tom was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber of Commerce as an outstanding citizen of Alleghany County. He was a member of Sparta First Baptist Church and later a member of Laurel Springs Baptist Church.
After his pharmacy career, he established the Burgiss Dance Barn where folks were entertained for a dozen years with quality live mountain music, dancing, and good food. Meanwhile, he and Nancy ran the Burgiss Farm Bed and Breakfast in the family farmhouse next door for nearly 20 years. Simultaneously, Tom started his 2nd career as a winemaker. In 1998, he established grapestompers.com, an internet-based winemaking supply company, and in 2001, established Thistle Meadow Winery; many of the wines have won medals and awards.
Tom was a man of action and loved his wife, family and just being around people. Known for having a perpetual zest for life, Tom was a visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit and believed in helping folks where he saw a need. Papa Tom frequently went down the mountain to watch his grandchildren compete in athletics and other events and was an avid supporter in their lives. He enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway, kayaking the New River, bicycling the Virginia Creeper, and snow skiing all over NC, the Rockies, and the Alps. Tom was an avid UNC Tar Heel and was often seen wearing UNC apparel. He refused to wear any red clothing to avoid any possible ties to rival NCSU.
In addition to his parents, Tom was preceded in death by his sister, Patsy Roy Burgiss Sanders. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Nancy Waddell Burgiss, who resides at Vienna Village Assisted Living in Pfafftown, NC and his 3 sons, Tim (Debbie) of Statesville, NC, Brant (Amy) of Laurel Springs, and John (Tiffany) of Lewisville, NC and 6 grandchildren, Drew (Wilson) Yang of Toronto, Canada, Ali (Tyler) Lewis of Winston-Salem, NC, Riley Burgiss of Charlotte, NC, Ashley Burgiss of Arlington, TX, Mary Beth Burgiss of Laurel Springs, NC and Maddie Burgiss of Lewisville, NC. Also surviving a brother-in-law, Jerry (Sheryl) Waddell of Sparta, and several nieces, great nieces, great nephews, and cousins whom he all cherished.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial gift to either the Alleghany Education Foundation, PO Box 33, Sparta, NC 28675 or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the Thomas Roy Burgiss Family Scholarship Fund. Checks can be mailed to the University Development Office, PO Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, or a gift can be made online at give.unc.edu using fund code 474719.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be a walk-through visitation (no receiving line) held at Thomas Family Funeral Service in Sparta on Friday, February 12 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at a later date at the Burgiss Farm. Also due to COVID, the family respectfully asks for no visitors or food at their respective residences.
The family would like to extend special thanks to the entire staff at Vienna Village and the doctors and nurses at Forsyth Medical Center for their excellent care.
Thomas Family Funeral Service is honored to be serving the Burgiss Family. If you wish, online tributes may be extended to the family at www.thomasfamilyfs.com.
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