John Acie Burgess – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force

Thursday, March 10, 2005:

John Acie Burgess, 86, an Air Force Chaplain who later was a Disciples of Christ minister in the Washington area, died March 1, 2005, of congestive heart failure at Collington Episcopal Life Care in Mitchellville. He had lived in Camp Springs, Maryland, for 42 years.

After serving as an enlisted man in the National Guard, he was commissioned a chaplain with the Army Air Corps in 1940 and assigned to training bases in California and Colorado. During World War II, he went overseas as a Chaplain with the Army Air Forces in North Africa. He served with the 79th Fighter Group in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and at 12th Air Force headquarters in Italy.

After the war, he served with Air Force units in Alaska. In 1951, he took a year off to pursue graduate studies in religion at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., before being called back to the Air Force during the Korean War.

He served as chaplain with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing in Korea and later was assigned to bases in California, Texas and the Philippines. While at Lackland Air Force Base Hospital in San Antonio, he developed a training program for military chaplains working in hospitals. He also served with the Strategic Air Command in the United States and England before retiring from the Air Force in 1963 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The Rev. Burgess came to the Washington area as pastor of Minnesota Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1963. The next year, the church was renamed Bethany Christian Church and moved to Fort Washington. He remained there until 1976, when he became the minister of Landover Christian Church.

In 1979, he established a consulting business, handling funerals and other pastoral duties for large churches and funeral homes. He worked especially closely with Gasch’s Funeral Home in Hyattsville and conducted many services at Arlington National Cemetery. He retired in 1998.

He was born in Douglas County, Washington, and graduated from Phillips University in Enid, Okla. He received a master’s of divinity degree from Phillips in 1939 and was ordained the same year. He served a church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a year before becoming a military chaplain.

From 1975 to 1987, he was on the board of Prince George’s Hospital Center. He was an emergency disaster relief worker for the Red Cross from 1970 to the early 1980s, helping in locales stricken by natural disasters.

His wife of 59 years, Ruby Viers Burgess, died in 1998.

Survivors include four children, Malcolm Burgess of Yorktown, Va., the Rev. Ronald Burgess of Camp Springs, Enid Burgess of Los Alamos, N.M., and the Rev. Mark Burgess of Smithfield, Va.; a brother; 10 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.


REVEREND JOHN ACIE BURGESS, age 86, a former US Air Force chaplain, died of congestive heart failure on Tuesday, March 1, 2005.

Rev. Burgess was born in Alstown of Douglas County, Washington, and was the son of the late Kathern and Albert Burgess. Rev. Burgess was preceded in death by his loving wife of 59 years, Ruby Viers Burgess.

Upon completion of his education at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, Rev. Burgess was ordained by the Federated Church of Waterville Washington, a federation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Baptist Church and Methodist Church. He then served as the pastor of the First Christian Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and upon commissioning as a chaplain in 1940, was assigned to Army Air Corps training fields in Stockton, California, and La Junta, Colorado. He articipated in the invasion of North Africa in WWII with the Composite Fighter Group in Casablanca, and served throughout the remaining years of the war with the 36th Air Depot in Algiers, the 79th Fighter Group through North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and the 12th Air Force Headquarters in Italy.

After the war, Rev. Burgess continued to serve in assignments with the US Air Force in Alaska, then returned to civilian life to undertake graduate studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, while serving as pastor of the First Christian Church in Concord, California.

Upon his recall by the US Air Force for the Korean War, Rev. Burgess served with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Korean War, with the USAF Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, with the 13th Air Force Headquarters in the Philippines, with the Lackland AFB Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and with the Strategic Air Command in England and the United States.

Rev. Burgess retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years of service as a chaplain in the US Army Air Corps and later the US Air Force. He then served for 32 years within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as pastor for the Minnesota Avenue Christian Church in Washington D.C., for the Bethany Christian Church of Fort Washington, Maryland, and for the Landover Christian Church in Landover, Maryland. He continued until recently as an active participant in his community in various positions of responsibility, including that of member of the Board of the Prince George’s Hospital Center, Cheverly, Maryland. He also served as a regional emergency disaster worker for the Red Cross after floods and hurricanes in southwest Virginia and elsewhere.

Rev. Burgess is survived by his brother, Wistar Burgess of Pasco, Washington, by four children, Malcolm Burgess of Yorktown, Virginia, Rev. Ronald Burgess of Camp Springs, Maryland, Enid Burgess of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Rev. Mark Burgess of Smithfield, Virginia, and by 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends and visitors in a reception to be held from 5 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 3, at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., prior to a memorial service at 5:30 the church. Interment in Arlington National Cemetery will follow at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Hospice Foundation, 96 Harry Truman Dr., Largo, MD 20772, or the Lung Association of Maryland, 14435 Cherry Lane Ct., Suite 310, Laurel, Maryland.



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/03/1914
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/02/1998

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment