Frank Lee Burch
Frank Lee Burch, friend, adventurer, and craftsman, passed away November 25, 2014. His beloved friend, wife, and fellow adventurer, JoAnn Burch passed away February 1, 2014. Frank is survived by his son, Stanley Burch.
Frank was born on a sunny day October 29, 1930 in Big Springs, Texas. His family moved to Medford, Ore. Frank graduated from Medford High School and afterward joined the United States Air Force. Frank served as a military police officer during the Korean War.
Following his discharge from the Air Force, Frank's love of mountains, streams, and flowing rivers drew him back to Southern Oregon. Frank went to work in the plywood and timber industry. He worked for many years at KOGAP as a superintendent.
Frank was the consummate perfectionist and adventurer. He tackled all pursuits and projects with passion and enthusiasm. Whether restoring a classic automobile or planning a wild river adventure, Frank's attention to detail and organization was legendary. These skills served him well when Frank and other community members founded, organized, and operated the annual Medford National Air Show. Frank went on to serve as President of the Airshow in 1994.
The Mexican Baja Peninsula attracted Frank and JoAnn. They built off-road vehicles and ran the gruelling Baja 1000 road race several times between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. At the time Frank and JoAnn participated in this event, there were no roads or amenities, and Cabo had yet to be discovered as a tourist destination.
Frank and JoAnn developed a passion for white water river running. Frank ran some of the most challenging rivers, including the Rogue River, the Illinois River, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, the Owyhee River, and the Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River.
Frank and JoAnn's passion for river running even took them across the world to Russia. Prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain , they were part of several river trips in Siberia as part of the Russians and Americans for Teamwork or "RAFT" program.
Following their retirement, when most retirees consider taking it easy, Frank and JoAnn planned extreme wilderness trips to Alaska and the Yukon Territories. They rafted the entire length of the Yukon River from Lake LaBerge to the Arctic Ocean. They also rafted the Tatshenshini River, the Nahanni River and the Noatik River, north of the Arctic Circle.
When Frank and JoAnn completed their wilderness adventures, Frank's passion turned to collecting and restoring classic cars. His collection of restored cars included 1961 Corvette and a 1966 Mustang, in addition to several others. Frank's restored cars won numerous awards, including Best in Show.
Frank was a man who was bigger than life. His exuberant love of life and passionate pursuit of his many and varied interests are his legacy and an inspiration to us all. Frank leaves behind many friends, both near and far - from the tip of Baja, to to the north past the gates of the Arctic in Alaska and extending across an ocean and beyond to his friends in Russia. Frank will be greatly missed, but a tremendous spirit such as his can never be forgotten.