Burgesses celebrate their ruby anniversary

Sporting anniversary cake on his face, Dwight Burgess and his bride of 40 years, Katherine, celebrated at Four Leaves Winery. Enlargephoto

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Sporting anniversary cake on his face, Dwight Burgess and his bride of 40 years, Katherine, celebrated at Four Leaves Winery.

Who does the ranking is anybody’s guess, but anniversaries come with preferred gifts of paper, wood, silver or gold, based on how many years of togetherness a couple can claim.

For Dwight and Katherine Burgess, the recommended gift was rubies for their 40 years of marriage. The couple celebrated Dec. 28 at the Four Leaves Winery with a bevy of friends they’ve made from their involvement in a variety of local organizations such as the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, Rotary Club of Durango (he’s a past president) and Durango Chapter of the American Association of University Women (she’s the current president).

Theirs was a more, shall we say, exotic courtship than most. They met while both were working for the CIA, he in Tanzania and she in Kenya, when he came to Nairobi for some dental care. While it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight, they ran into each other again while back in Washington, D.C., and three months later tied the knot before heading off to a joint posting to Tunisia.

It became a life of adventure on the “Dark Continent,” until they moved to Dallas, where she became a travel agent and returned to college to earn her doctorate in the humanities, and Dwight Burgess returned to Africa on and off as a contract worker for the CIA.

And then Guillain-Barre syndrome struck him, leading to a dramatic air transport to London and several years of treatment to overcome most of the symptoms, which include paralysis, unsteady gait and breathing and swallowing difficulties. It’s incredibly rare, with only 0.001 percent of the population diagnosed with the autoimmune disease.

Looking back, Katherine Burgess said marriage is like “a roll of the dice.” There’s just no way to really know how well it’s going to work when walking down the aisle. She’s glad to know her roll turned up aces, if that’s not too much of a mixed metaphor.

The party was low key and convivial – just what guests needed at the end of the holiday season. And it was a reminder of the amazing cross section of people who have elected to make Durango the place to spend their golden years, and of the talents they have.

Many more healthy and happy years, Dwight and Katherine.

HHH

Happy Capricorn birthday greetings go to Tami Bradshaw, Garrett Moore, Paige Moore, Wyatt Moore, Mark Ugai, Chelsea Wendland, Isabelle Washburn, Terry Clark, Megan Shacklett, Marissa Campano, Joan Duncan, Mark Ugai, Melissa Cooksey, Eric Schadt, Caleb Anderson, Jim Ruetschle, Robb Bourdon, Zane Bourdon, Jasmine McCoy, Sydney McCoy, Ben Root, Ken Marshall, Jennifer Schadt, Ruth Shock, Mitchell Serwe, Harold Sparks, Alfred Rudolph, Carol Warren, Sara Rolph, Don Brown, Joyce Boyer, Jack Schuba, Scattie McGrath, Niall Byers, Sonja Bayley, George Spicer, Jon Powell and Martie Anderson.

Extra greetings go to three of my favorite ladies – Mary Orsini, Nancy Conrad and Virginia Miller Cavanagh.

HHH

Briggen Wrinkle has had a busy few months as the new executive director of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado. She announced at her first public function in September that she was looking for four new board members, an important and time-consuming task when you want a working board.

And now they are on board. The newbies are Mike Hudson, a consultant and volunteer with the Boulder Foundation; Greg Riley, a gas and oil operator and rancher in Ignacio; June Russell, a certified public accountant, who recently moved here from Hawaii; and Melissa Zureich, executive vice president at First National Bank of Durango.

Christi Zeller, who has served on the board for the last year, has been elected to the position of vice president of the board.

I used to think the important number regarding the foundation was the value of the assets it administers. And while that number matters, there are others that matter so much more.

In 2011, while keeping operating costs at 8 percent of income, the foundation granted $1.3 million in the five counties it serves – $400,000 in grants, $354,000 in scholarships and $561,000 to support programs.

It provides a fiscal sponsorship for about 25 nonprofits that gives them 501(c)3 benefits with the Internal Revenue Service, ranging from Dumpster Beautification to Durango Friends of the Arts, Regional Substance Abuse Prevention and Women’s Health Coalition.

On the donor-advised fund side, for those who want philanthropy to be a sustainable effort, there are about 30 funds administered by the foundation. One of these funds can be started for as little as $2,500, so there’s no need to be überwealthy.

Tim Walsworth, former president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado, likened the organization to the community’s checkbook, while the foundation is its savings account. A large number of local nonprofits, almost 70, have “savings accounts,” or endowment funds, with the foundation, including the Adaptive Sports Association, Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County, Trails 2000 and the Women’s Resource Center. (Just to give you an idea about the wide variety of organizations who have created funds with the foundation.)

New in 2012 was the Cornerstone Fund, an unrestricted fund created to support the ongoing overhead of the foundation and replenish its community grants fund. It’s not the sexiest giving, but keeping the lights turned on is perhaps one of the most vital ways to help an organization whose mission you support.

If 2013 is the year for you to start your family’s or your organization’s fund with the foundation, call Wrinkle at 375-5807 or email her at briggen@swcommunityfoundation.org.

HHH

Rock ’n’ roll has been the soundtrack of my generation, so you can imagine my interest in “A Perspective on the Evolution and Legacy of Rock Music and its Impact on American Generations,” which former Los Angeles broadcaster Bob Griffith will present at 6 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango.

Griffith, who has spent more than 30 years in radio station operation and management, has had a front-row seat for much of rock’s history. He’ll have some fun with it, I’m sure, but he’ll be taking a serious look as well.

One of the questions he’ll be asking is “Did this genre of music lead or follow American culture from the late 20th century through to today?” The music, the lifestyle changes, the characters and the tragedies that gave many young Americans their first taste of mortality are all included in his program.

The presentation is free. The fellowship is located at 419 San Juan Drive, southwest of Needham Elementary School.

HHH

Trying to stay warm in front of a roaring fire during this bitter cold for their anniversaries are Charlie and Martha Diehl, Warren and Marilyn Holland, Winston and Mary Marugg and Coy and Niki Bryant.

HHH

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