Memory Hold The Door
Alfred Franklin Burgess (1906–1992)
Alfred Franklin Burgess was born in Greer, South Carolina on June 1, 1906. He graduated from Davidson College in 1928 and from the University of Virginia Law School in 1931, in both cases with honors. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif. Also, he earned assignment to the Virginia Law Review. Upon being admitted to the South Carolina Bar, he entered practice in Greenville with C. Granville Wyche, later forming a lifelong partnership that both men treasured and set high standards which have guided all of those who have followed into the firm of Wyche, Burgess, Freeman and Parham today.
In 1938, Alfred was married to Mary Wyche. There were five children born of their marriage, two sons and three daughters: Judge Frank Burgess; Granville Burgess, Mary Wyche Lesesne; Caroline Ansbacher; Vicky Pitman; and there followed fourteen grandchildren.
The public service career of Alfred Burgess was outstanding. He served as a special circuit judge by appointment of the chief justice on four separate occasions in the late forties and early fifties. He was a member of several corporate boards of directors, including Multimedia and Builder Marts of America. Also, he served in many capacities in civic and charitable organizations in addition to being an active Episcopalian in Christ Episcopal Church. His interest and participation in music and enjoyment of the arts was significant and well known.
The charitable associations included St. Francis Community Hospital, Shriners Hospital and United Fund. In 1964 through 1966 Alfred Burgess chaired the Greenville Community Bi-racial Commission. Pursuant to the peaceful handling of race relations at a volatile time, he later received an award given by Phyllis Wheatley Center when it was said, “he spoke out courageously when that was what was needed. … And he spoke out repeatedly … His courage was in the very best tradition of our nation.”
In his law practice Al Burgess lived a life with high levels of stress but he did not allow this to interfere with his devotion to his family and dedication to his children’s lives. His law partners remember his unyielding integrity. A partner said, “In a hard fight he fought hard but his guiding star was always what was right. He made us better men.”
Perhaps a phrase from a poem by his wife, Mary, could fairly describe her husband, “He was one of those souls who helped fulfill God’s scheme.”