Saturday, July 4, 2015

In memoriam: Kim Burbank

We are saddened by the death of Kelton Miller Burbank ("Kim"), who was a member of the Club for nearly 50 years, from 1964 until 2013, and an honorary member for the last few years. Our condolences go to his widow, Hedy, and to his extended family. The Club will miss Kim.

The following is Kim's obituary:

Kelton Miller Burbank died peacefully in his home in New Ashford, Mass. on June 29th, 2015.

He is survived by his loving wife, Hedy Harris Lipez Burbank; his three children, Kelton M. Burbank, Jr., (Betsy Burbank), Brooke E. Burbank, (Blake Wood), and Joshua G. Burbank, (Miriam Preus); his brother, John Burbank, (Ouissa Fohrhaltz), his sister, Donna Burbank Eckhardt, (Alan Eckhardt); his two step-children, Sydney J.Lipez and Zachary H.Lipez, (Zohra Atash); and his three grand-daughters, Phoebe Lan Burbank, Katherine Xian Burbank and Samara Preus Burbank.

He was beloved by all and will be deeply missed. Kim, as he was affectionately known, was a lifelong Berkshire County resident, and practiced law in Pittsfield until 2012. He was a graduate of the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT and received his Bachelor of Arts from Williams College in 1956, before graduating summa cum laude from Harvard Law in 1959. He was a law clerk to Justice Harold P. Williams of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for a year before becoming an associate at the Boston Law firm Choate Hall & Stewart. After a year he left Boston to return to the Berkshires where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1961 he joined the firm of Cain, Lewis and Humphrey, and in 1963 became a partner at Cain, Hibbard and Myers. In 1984 he opened his solo practice where he continued practicing until his retirement at the age of 78.

Kim served on the board of numerous Berkshire County non-profits and arts organizations where he donated countless hours of his legal skills, including the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, the Pittsfield YMCA, the Elizabeth Freeman Center, (which assists and counsels victims of rape and domestic violence), the Audubon Society, the Family and Children Service of Berkshire County, the Berkshire branch of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Housatonic River Watershed Association, Shakespeare & Co., South Mountain Assoc. and many, many others. He also happily served as a Selectman of the town of New Ashford for nine years.

Kim was an avid skier in his youth and well into middle age. He was captain of the Williams Swim Team. His passion for swimming continued throughout his life and he swam competitively at the master's level where he won several events when he was in his 60s. Kim had a wide variety of interests, including but not limited to, hiking, playing tennis, bird watching, reading poetry, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle (in ink) before anyone else arose.

He loved the Berkshires not only for their intrinsic beauty, but for the ready access to art museums, lectures, musical and theatrical performances, and he attended as many cultural events as he could. His chief passion was gardening. He spent the majority of his free time digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, and planting vegetables, flowers and shrubs. Kim enjoyed nothing better than to spend the entire day in his garden, coming in at dusk covered from head to toe in the dirt he so loved.

In 1999 the Berkshire Natural Resources Council dedicated a trail on Yokum Ridge in his honor for the then "30 years of mostly anonymous but invaluable service" in ensuring the preservation of vast swatches of land throughout Berkshire County. Kim continued his work for BNRC until his passing. The past president of BRNC noted that the overwhelming portion of Kim's work for BNRC had been without charge, in keeping with his generous nature and dedication to land preservation.

In 2000 he was fortunate enough to reconnect with an old friend, Hedy Lipez, and shortly thereafter the two of them began their life together, traveling the globe and attending peace rallies as necessary. They married in 2003 and their travels brought them to Zambia, Scotland, Costa Rica, Cuba, England, the Galapagos Islands, and Thailand. In May of 2005, they undertook the "great road trip", and drove across the country to see Kim's kids in Seattle. In 2007 they discovered Bisbee, Arizona where they ultimately purchased a cottage that was to bring them much joy together.

Kim's friends and family will always think of his smile, kindness, generosity, vast knowledge of the unexpected, and his invariable modesty. His many merits were hidden under a barrel. Of all the many varied roles in which Kim served, none gave him more pleasure than that of Pop-Pop to his three beautiful grand-daughters. He will be fondly remembered as having one or all of them perched on his lap, with a book open and a smile on his face.

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