Robert Bonney shares fond memories of Virgil Burger

As with many, I also am saddened about the passing of Virgil Burger, and his memory deserves a few more words.

The best way I can describe his life is, “a quiet profoundness.” Most of us knew him through school days, and it’s unusual I even noticed it then (kids usually don’t notice that kind of thing — at least that’s what I thought!).

His life emanated one main theme for the youth he worked with — be a good person ... do the right thing. Be a responsible person and adult. That’s all there was to it, and he lived those same virtues.

Looking back, there was no such thing as an interruption — actually he always looked forward to any opportunity to talk with you as an individual. It hardly mattered when and where it was — stopping by his little coach’s office in the locker room where he always “brightened up” to say something back to you, or even busy (between wrestling matches) he’d stop if there was something you had to say. He spent more time standing in the school hallways visiting with kids than walking them. Multiply that times a thousand other individuals and there was Virgil Burger, aka “Coach,” in his element.

Setting kids on a good path to adulthood with that simple virtue seemed his life’s work. Although wrestling was a giant part of his life, it was also for the same reason. Wrestling is an individual sport. When you’re out there on the wrestling mat, there’s only one person to do the job — and that’s yourself. It’s all up to you. No one’s going to win that match for you. He only wanted you to have that experience and it didn’t matter if you won or lost, as the effort itself already made both of you a winner. It just went along with Virgil’s life work of teaching kids to be responsible.

Although the church was full at his memorial, I’m sure if all could’ve that wanted to attend, the stadium might’ve been big enough, roughly the size of our coach’s heart. I join them in sadness at our loss and in respect for a terrific human being.



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