Elmer Edward Burgess

Aug. 8, 1924 Feb. 6, 2004

Sonora native Elmer Edward Burgess, a World War II veteran and longtime construction truck driver, died Friday at his Sonora residence after a long battle with cancer. He was 79.

Mr. Burgess graduated from Sonora Elementary and Sonora High schools before entering the Army Air Corps in 1943.

He trained on increasingly sophisticated planes in Utah, Kansas, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Mr. Burgess married Ruby Castle of Sonora in 1944, and she accompanied him to various bases for his training in the states.

He eventually was assigned to the 73rd Wing, 499th Bomb Group, near Saipan. It flew 9,894 combat sorties, dropped 48,532 tons of bombs and lost 182 aircraft.

Mr. Burgess was a B-29 bomber pilot based on Tinian, 4 miles off Saipan in the South Pacific. He was part of the force that dropped massive amounts of conventional bombs on the Japanese mainland in the months leading up to the A-bomb's knockout blow.

He was awarded the Flying Cross.

Upon returning to Sonora from the war, he set out on a career that included work in dairying, logging and construction. He worked for George Reed Construction for 35 years, and his wife worked for Tuolumne County's elections office and superior court.

The most important things to him, said family members, were his family, building and creating things, and boating and fishing.

In addition to his wife of 59 years, Mr. Burgess is survived by three sons, Ronald E. Burgess and Brian A. Burgess, both of Oregon, and Daniel M. Burgess of Sonora, and their spouses; six grandchildren, Rebecca L. Loflin of Susanville, Neil Burgess of Oregon, Jared D. Burgess of Annapolis, Md., and Matthew E. Burgess, Meghan F. Burgess and Lucas W. Burgess, all of Sonora; four great-grandchildren, Logan and Dalton Loflin of Susanville and Paige Brook and Taylor Burgess of Oregon; one brother, Lewis G. Burgess of Sonora; three sisters, Camille Nichols, Evelyn McDougell and Martha Martin, all of Sonora; several nieces and nephews, friends and lifelong buddies from high school.

He was preceded in death by one grandson, Taylor James Burgess, and two brothers, John and Albert Burgess.

Private family services will be held at his request, and cremation is planned. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Burgess requests donations be made to the Golden Regiment band or Sonora High School sports programs, 430 N. Washington St., Sonora, CA 95370.


SMITH Berta Smith, 89, of Sonora died Saturday at a Petaluma care center. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.