The Superior Express -

Kelly Burgess


November 12, 2020

Kelly Vinton Burgess was born May 7, 1954. He died Nov. 2, 2020, at the age of 66. He was born the third son of Ivan and Laura Rush Burgess and was the beloved baby of the family who in turn loved his older brothers, Theodore, 10 years older, and Larry, 2 years older. Kelly thought he had an idealic childhood with lots of friends in the neighborhood who would play games late into the night and enjoy each other’s company, no matter whose house they were at. He could roam the city freely, ride his bike to the pool with Larry, visit his Granddad Enos and Grandmother Violet often and come home when the 6 o’clock whistle blew, maybe! He had an adventurous spirit and he enjoyed people.

Kelly graduated from Smith Center High School in 1973. He attended Sterling College three years. He had many stories of his travels with the college choir. He met Becky Hendrich from Portis and suddenly he was interested in Bob Jones University. He attended school there one semester. They married Aug. 18, 1978, and he finished his education degree at Fort Hays University in 1981. His first teaching job was at Jewell-Randall Middle School. His tenure there lasted 25 years, with Kelly serving in many capacities such as coach, assistant principal and teaching various subjects. During those years in Jewell, he and Becky added three children to their family of Vinton Hendrich, Caleb John, and Emily Joy. He was a loving and fun dad who made life an adventure. He taught his children about Jesus, taking many youth group children on trips to The Wilds in Colorado. In 2003 he pursued and received his school administration degree from Fort Hays. This was a major highlight of his career as he struggled in school during his younger years. This prepared him to be the grade school principal at USD 237 from 2006 to 2012. He had a personal care for the children and for all the personnel. That then translated to a part- time job he began upon retirement, as the custodian for the sports complex. He believed it was a true ministry to serve the sports teams and the coaches and he did it to perfection.

Along with serving in the school atmosphere all of his life, he served his Savior Jesus Christ, as a servant in whatever church he attended. He and Becky were instrumental in helping start the Calvary Bible Church in Jewell. He served there as a Sunday School teacher and deacon leader for more than 15 years. In 2015 they transitioned to the Evangelical Free Church in Smith Center and he served as a deacon-chairman, small group leader, music leader for Sunday nights and his love for children had him serving food on Wednesday nights and helping with the Awana Cubbie kids program.

Kelly also enjoyed traveling to Israel and was privileged to do so five times. The first time was as a recipient of a grant where he was able to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. In 2019, he and Becky, along with nine others from the area, went for three weeks to Israel, Jordan and Samaria. It was a trip of a lifetime and Kelly brought up the rear of the group so he could answer any questions from those in the back.

In March of 2020, Kelly was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer. In the midst of a COVID pandemic, he kept a good attitude and was kind to all as they worked to give him more good years. June through August were days of reprieve and almost normal, then came September, when he really wanted to be out serving the football team but the cancer had come back with a vengeance. He drew his last breath on this earth surrounded by family and friends at the Smith County Memorial Hospital. With joy he met his Lord whom he loved and served.

Kelly was preceded in death by his grandparents, Enos and Violet Eller, Vinton and Beckie Burgess; his father, Ivan Burgess; and many aunts and uncles.

He is survived by his mother, Laura Burgess; his wife of 42 years, Becky Burgess; sons Vinton and wife, Leah, of Concordia, Caleb and wife, Kathryin, of Colorado Springs, Colo., daughter, Emily Hoshko and husband, Ben, of Smith Center; seven grandchildren, Henry, Ryah, and Laila of Concordia, Emma, Ivan and Vera of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Jackson of Smith Center; brothers Ted and wife, Eileen, of Kenyon, Minn., Larry and wife, Judy, of Smith Center; brother-in-law, Russell Hendrich and wife, Penny, of Harlan, Tony and Josie of Oneonta, N.Y.; Andrew and Emily of Portis; sisters-in-laws, Vicky Noel and husband, Brad, of Portis; Pat Hopper and husband, Britt, of Valley Center, Paula Carswell and husband, Jay, of Alton, and Ashley of Osborne; many nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family and a host of friends.

Visitation was held from 5 until 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Simmons-Rentschler Mortuary.

His funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. today ( Thursday) Nov. 12, at the Smith Center High School Gymnasium. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite Randall Trojans, Jewell Wildcats or Smith Center Redmen attire.

The family has requested memorial contributions may be made to SCMH, The Awana Program or Smith Center Athletics and can be sent in care of the mortuary.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Simmons-Rentschler Mortuary of Smith Center.


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