Cover photo for Hilmar Plaford Burgess's Obituary
Hilmar Plaford Burgess Profile Photo
1922 Hilmar 2023

Hilmar Plaford Burgess

April 10, 1922 — June 28, 2023




April 10, 1922 – June 28, 2023

Hilmar P. Burgess, age 101, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, went peacefully to be with his Lord on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at Friendship Village.  He was born at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo on April 10, 1922, to Emma and Plaford Burgess.

Hilmar served in the U.S. Coast Guard on the USS Groton (PF29) during WWII from 1942 to 1946.  His ship was in the North Atlantic and sent up weather balloons that helped predict the weather for the European Theater of Operations. 

From 1946 to 1948 he attended Emmaus Bible School in Toronto where he met his future wife.  He married Ruth Phillips in Yonkers, New York on September 6, 1947.  Following Bible School, they moved to Groton, Connecticut, in order to help a small church, Groton Bible Chapel, which was meeting in a small storefront on Thames Street.  Hilmar was a long-term elder and treasurer.  GBC was a charter member of the AWANA Clubs, and Hilmar and Ruth were the first leaders.  During this time, Gail and Roger were born.

Hilmar worked for 21 years at Electric Boat/General Dynamics, which builds submarines for the U.S. Navy.  He returned to his home roots in Kalamazoo in 2004.  Hilmar became a resident of Friendship Village in 2007 and lived in an independent apartment until March 2023.  He actively read his Bible through each year and loved to tell others about Jesus. 

He is survived by his daughter, Gail (Kenneth) Bowman of Traverse City, MI, his son, Roger (Janet) Burgess of Wheaton, IL, and 3 grandchildren, Sarah Bowman of Spring, TX, Andrew (Yolanda) Burgess of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, and Elizabeth Burgess of Grand Rapids, MI, as well as 10 nieces and nephews.  Hilmar was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Ruth, sister Eunice (98), and brother Paul (97).

A private family interment with full military honors has been held at the Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to the Wheaton Christian Grammar School:  1N350 N. Taylor Drive, Winfield, IL  60190. Arrangements by Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care of Richland, Michigan.  Personal messages for the family may be placed here at


The family has created a beautiful slideshow of memories and it may be viewed here.  



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