David Burgess was a jokester, art lover

Monday, February 10, 2014 | 6:41 p.m. CST; updated 7:16 p.m. CST, Monday, February 10, 2014

COLUMBIA — David R. Burgess was the funniest man on the planet, if you believe his nephews Cole and Connor Mueth.

The nephews, who grew up in St. Louis, used to spend part of their summers in Columbia at their uncle's house. Mr. Burgess would put on reggae music — his favorite — and all three of them would dance around the house pretending to be Rastafarians.

Mr. Burgess's wife, Holly, worked in the Pen Point, a stationery store owned by the Mueth family. The nephews would sometimes help out there in the summer.

“We used to get paid in Beanie Babies,” Cole said, laughing. 

Mr. Burgess had a way of making every situation a good time, his nephews said.

Mr. Burgess and his nephews were at a restaurant dinner party, Connor said, when he taught them the proper way to hang a spoon from their nose — one of Mr. Burgess's classic moves. The nephews' father, Greg Mueth, said he has several photos of Mr. Burgess hanging spoons from his nose at formal dinners. 

David Burgess of Columbia died Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. He was 58.

He was born Aug. 1, 1955, in Chicago to Ron and Mary (Bucz) Burgess.

Mr. Burgess moved to Columbia at a young age. He graduated from Hickman High School and earned a biology degree from Columbia College. 

He married Holly Symmonds on April 26, 1980. 

Mr. Burgess worked as a health physicist at MU. He treasured his colleagues, his sister-in-law Jill Meuth said, and he was especially fond of the Museum of Art and Archaeology.

The Burgesses donated money to the museum and attended many of its openings and exhibits.

Mr. Burgess will be remembered for his sense of humor, work ethic and his love of animals. The Polish kolaches he always made around Christmastime are legend among family.

Mr. Burgess adopted many pets over the years, Jill Meuth said. “He was a big animal lover.”

Survivors include his wife, Holly Burgess of Columbia; his father, Ron Burgess of Columbia; two sisters Karen and Laura Burgess of Columbia; brother- and sister-in-law, Mike and Jeannette Symmonds of Columbia; brother- and sister-in-law, Jill and Greg Mueth of St. Louis; nephews Cole and Connor Mueth of St. Louis; and an aunt Rose Lewandowski of Chicago.

His mother, Mary Burgess, and an uncle, John Lewandowski, died earlier.

In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made in Mr. Burgess' name to either the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology,  1 Pickard Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, or the Central Missouri Humane Society, 616 Big Bear Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201.

Services are planned for the spring.

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