Charles Wilson Burnham
1933 - 2021
April 6, 1933 - December 13, 2021

Teaching was one of Charlie's greatest loves whether in the classroom or on a snowy mountainside. He was beloved by his students for his knowledge and uncompromising attitude. Perfection was the goal in all that he did. Born in 1933 in Detroit, MI to Charles Hubbard and Anne (Wilson) Burnham, he was raised in Winchester, MA. He attended MIT, as did his father and grandfather before him, graduating in 1954. Following two years of service in the USAF, he returned to MIT to earn a PhD in 1961. He married Mary Sue (Morgan) in 1958. They had two sons Jeffrey Wentworth, born in 1960, and David Wilson, born in 1963. Following graduate school, the family moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the Geophysical Laboratory, an institution run by the Carnegie Foundation. In 1966 the family returned to the Boston area when he became Associate Professor of Mineralogy at Harvard University in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, retiring as a full Professor in 1996. He was an active volunteer in many ways: Serving on the Planning Board in the town of Acton, Massachusetts, working with the Boy Scouts of America, teaching in the Harvard, Cornell, and Yale Geology Summer Camp in Wyoming, and as a naturalist serving on several committees of the Appalachian Mountain Club, becoming President of the organization 1979-81. His sons as teenagers became interested in ski racing and soon Charlie found himself working on ski races first as a gate judge, then as a timer and finally as a F.I.S. T.D., the official who oversees the race for the USSA. This activity led him into many years of happily working on USSA ski races all over the East, the West, and culminating in two Olympic assignments; as a gate judge in the 1988 Calgary Olympics and as Head Gate Judge for all downhill events at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics and ParaOlympics. Charlie also became an expedition naturalist for many trips offered by the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Harvard Alumni Association. Charlie and Mary Sue retired to Durango, CO in 1996 where Charlie became involved with the Earth Sciences Department at Fort Lewis College, teaching an occasional class. Both Charlie and Mary Sue helped found Professional Associates at the college and were active in many roles, establishing a host family program and acting as computer "guru" for the group. He also participated in the first years of the Mountain Studies Institute.

Charlie died peacefully in Grand Junction, CO following a fall that occurred earlier in the year.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Sue, son Jeffrey and wife Leiah, son David and wife Jenni, and grandchildren, Ryan, Paige, Colby, Emily, Carter, and Oaklee.

There will be a Memorial Picnic held in the White Mountains of New Hampshire next summer.

Please make any contributions in his memory to a non-profit organization of your choice.
Published by The Durango Herald on Dec. 16, 2021.
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2 Entries
Dear Mary Sue and extended family, We just learned of Charlie's passing. We are so sad to learn of his loss. We know he is dearly missed by all that know and love him. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers got out to each of you at this difficult time. With warmest condolences and deepest sympathy, Deanne and Ed Idar
Mr. and Mrs. Ed and Deanne Idar
January 15, 2022
David and Joyce Wilbourn
January 12, 2022
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