Lee Ward Burgett

Jan. 6, 2015

Lee Ward Burgett (BS ’61, MS ’62 Mech Egr) of La Crosse, Wisc., died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 21, 2014, at Gundersen Health System. He was 75.

He was born Feb. 7, 1939, in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Kenneth and Violet (Nelson) Burgett. His childhood was spent working in the family business, Burgett Floral. He began delivering flowers, trees, and shrubs at the age of 14.

He was a star athlete at East Grand Rapids High School, where he was in choir, wrestled, played softball and football, and was an all-state running back.

He attended Michigan State University, where his Spartan pride began. In 1961, he achieved his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, which was followed by a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1962.

Burgett joined Trane Co. as a development engineer, prompting a move to La Crosse. He began his work in the research department, investigating heat transfer.

His ambitious nature paved the way for numerous promotions and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. One of his greatest achievements was his “Unitary Air Cooled Centrifugal Refrigeration Water Chiller” patent (Trane) in 1974. He became manager of engineering in 1979.

Passionate in his field, he maintained an active role in various societies and trade organizations such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Engineers), ARI (Air Conditioning Refrigeration Institute), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) and USGBC (United States Green Building Council).

At Trane, he became the vice president of engineering technology in 1991 and the vice president of New Ventures in 1996. After many years of influential work at Trane, he took a lighter role in the company in 2002 when he began consulting on a part-time basis.

Through the 1990s and early 2000s, he dove deeper and deeper into ASHRAE, making contributions to standards development, taking part in the standards committee, technology council, programs committee and various other phases of the society. He received many accolades such as the R.C. Schulze Distinguished Service Award in 1997 (ARI), the Distinguished Service Award and Fellow Award in 1999 (ASHRAE), the Lifetime Achievement Award (ARI) and the Exceptional Service Award in 2013 (ASHRAE).

His in-depth involvement with ASHRAE eventually led to his presidency in 2005 and 2006, which was one of his more prestigious accomplishments. During his presidency he helped shape a road map for sustainability, promoted conservation of energy, and exercised the importance of international growth.

He married Nancy Roubik on May 11, 1985, in the chapel at First Congregational Church.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; three children, Randy (Marsha), Robert (Laura) and Mary Beth; grandchildren, Tyler Lee (Dallas) and Andrea of Randy, Kayla (Josh) and Tyler Austin of Robert, Andrew, Ryan, Nathan of Mary Beth; his sister, Nancy (Burgett) Butts; nephew, William Butts (Carol) their children Lily, Violet, and Holly.

There was a family memorial service on Dec. 27.

Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse assisted the family.

Online condolences may be submitted at www.schumacher-kish.com.