James E. Burch, 84, Loogootee

James E. Burch, 84, of Loogootee, passed away at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at The Villages of Oak Ridge in Washington.

He was born December 5, 1935 in Loogootee to the late Walter and Beatrice (Seals) Burch.

Jim was an Air Force veteran and was stationed in Duluth, Minnesota,, and St. Johns, Newfoundland, during his time in the service. After being honorably discharged in 1959 he returned to Loogootee and began his engineering career. In 1961 Jim and his business partners, Robert J. Elliott and Arthur R. Boddy, bought what is now known as Midwestern Engineers, a business that started with 5 employees and has since grown to nearly 50 employees at two locations.

Jim’s career included work for Bill Koch in Santa Claus, Indiana developing Christmas Lake Village, as well as assisting the Koch’s with Santa Claus Land which is now Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. He worked with various municipalities and entities in southern Indiana to bring water to the rural areas of the state, including Stucker Fork Conservancy District, a water utility which serves five counties in southeastern Indiana, and Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District, which now delivers water to nine counties in southwestern Indiana serving nearly 100,000 people. He worked fervently to provide clean water for rural citizens in southern Indiana and was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Frank O’Bannon as a result of his efforts. The Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, a water organization representing water utilities throughout the state, created the James E. Burch Steward of the Environment Award. This award is given annually to recognize individuals who protect the environment to assure clean water is available for future generations.

He was an original founder of Bellgrade Developers, created in 1962, with business activities of farming and residential development.

Jim was a past member of the Martin County Bank which became United Southwest Bank and is now part of Old National Bank. He was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus as well as a past member of St.Vincent de Paul Society.

He enjoyed watching the St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and the Purdue Boilers. He loved working on the farm, mowing the yard, and checking in each morning at Midwestern Engineers.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Beatrice (Seals) Burch; siblings, Joe (Eileen) Burch, Tommy (Edith) Burch, Charles (Bernice) Burch, John (Olive) Burch, Rita Abplanalp; daughter-in-law, Ann (Jones) Burch; brother-in-laws, Omer Wildman and Loran Walton.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marilyn (Gootee) Burch of Loogootee; children, Chris (Sandy) Burch of Loogootee, Dennis Burch (Joan Zimmerman) of Indianapolis, Richard (Joni) Burch of Loogootee, Susan (Carl) Arvin of Loogootee and Leah (Chris) Bradley of Evansville; 20 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; sisters, Margie Walton and Eleanor Wildman; brother-in-law, Gil Abplanalp; and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Very Rev. J. Kenneth Walker at 10 a.m. ET Friday, September 13, 2019, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. Burial will follow in St. John Catholic Cemetery.

Visitation will be held Thursday, September 12, 2019, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET at Blake Funeral Home in Loogootee.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to St. Vincent De Paul.

Condolences may be made online at www.blakefuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements were provided by Blake Funeral Home in Loogootee.

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