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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Thursday, July 29, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: Business
Page: 13B
Bud L. Burson was perfect because he was God, or at least that’s what he told his friends.

“And then he’d laugh . . . and we’d laugh with him,” said Jim Forsyth, 75, his friend and former co-worker.

But Mr. Burson’s friends never let him off easy.

“We wouldn’t let him get away without some retort to keep him in his place,” Forsyth said, “which was hard to do. He was after you all the time, which we all miss.”

Mr. Burson died June 10. He had suffered a massive heart attack four days earlier while riding his bicycle in training for Ride the Rockies. He was 77.

Carla Burson said her husband of 23 years rode 30 to 60 miles a couple times a week, rides that Mr. Burson considered “short.”

“The activity that Bud participated in for a man his age was remarkable,” Carla Burson said. “That was his nature; he always pushed himself.”

Mr. Burson was born Hugh Shelton on Nov. 22, 1926, at the Willows Maternity Sanitarium in Kansas City, Mo. He was adopted two weeks later by William and Goldie Burson, of Denver, where he lived the rest of his life.

Mr. Burson never made it through high school. When he was 14, his father fudged his son’s birth date by two years, allowing his underage, but gung-ho, son to serve in World War II.

When Mr. Burson returned four years later, he realized he would need a high school diploma to make it in the world. He passed the U.S. Armed Forces Equivalency Exam and, with the G.I. Bill in hand, enrolled at the University of Denver, where he went on to receive his master’s degree in education in 1956.

That was when Mr. Burson began his love affair with Denver Public Schools, where he served as an elementary teacher, school coordinator and principal for 31 years.

“I think he himself loved learning,” said Carla Burson, who also worked as a teacher in DPS for 25 years. “Even as an adult he was always fascinated to learn something new.”

In 1985, he retired and became a volunteer ski instructor for children at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park.

“They began to believe they could conquer anything, and that translated into their lives,” Carla Burson said of her husband’s influence on the children. “He had a special place in his heart for those who overcame.”

Mr. Burson received a pair of miniature ski poles from the children as an award and also to tease him about his short stature.

“He laughed at other people and laughed harder when they gave it back,” said longtime friend and former co-worker Kate Deal, 66.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Burson is survived by daughters Pam Eller, of Littleton, and Denise Freestone, of Fort Collins; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

There was a private interment.

Donations can be sent to the National Sports Center for the Disabled at P.O. Box 1290, Winter Park, CO 80482.


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