Gloria Geraldine Blackwell Burch, 83, of Buena Vista died Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019.


Gloria Geraldine Blackwell Burch, 83, of Buena Vista passed away Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019.

She was born April 7, 1936, in Rockbridge County, the daughter of the late Leonard H. Blackwell and Marguerite Robertson Blackwell.  In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Carrenza Lee Burch.

Graduating third in her class at Parry McCluer High School, Geraldine went to Phillips Business College in Lynchburg. Her first job was secretary to Lexington attorney Henry J. Foresman - formerly VMI's attorney. She also worked in area industries as a secretary for five years before joining the VMI family.

After 34 years at the Virginia Military Institute, Mrs. Burch, efficiently, humbly and without fanfare, retired on Aug. 1, 1994. Maj. Gen. Knapp presented Mrs. Burch with a VMI director's chair and resolution from the board of visitors.

Known affectionately as "Gerry," she came to VMI in 1960 as secretary to the business executive, Col. J. Carter Hanes. Upon his retirement in 1969, she held the same post for the new business officer, Col. Hart Slater, for two years when a fulltime personnel officer was required.

While classified as a secretary, she helped with purchasing and other chores. Colonel Slater chose her to head up the Personnel Office - to no one's surprise! It was perfect for "Gerry"! She could do any job and do it well, but it was becoming more obvious that personnel officer would become a critical position.

From 1984 to 1987, she served on the State Department of Personnel and Training Task Force on Decentralization and in 1990 she was placed on another study - Pay for Performance in State Managerial Positions. From 1970 to 1983, she was the Institute's budget officer. She was also in charge of being the director of Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunities.

Surviving are her daughter, Judy B. Kessinger and husband, Samuel; three grandchildren, Brittany A. Kessinger and Josh Fitz; Amanda K. Floyd and Morgan C. Kessinger; four great-grandchildren, Malia Fitz, Josellyn Fitz, Mason Miller and Emrie Kessinger. 

A graveside service was conducted Friday, Aug. 9, at Green Hill Cemetery with Pastor Butch Grow officiating.

Arrangements were handled by Bolling, Grose & Lotts Funeral Home.

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