December 31, 2007, 4:31 am

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Fayette’s noted author Robert Burch dies at 82

2007-12-27

By Trey Alverson

Fayette County lost one of its most notable citizens on Christmas day. Award-winning children’s author Robert J. Burch passed away after an extended illness. He was 82.

“The big thing about Robert was his love of people,” said nephew Sam Burch of Fayetteville.

“He was a great talker and a great listener. He had a heart-felt interest in everyone he came in contact with. He just loved people.”

Robert Burch began his career as an author after receiving encouragement from instructors at a community creative writing course in New York City in the early 1960’s.

He went on to publish 19 books, most famously “Queenie Peavy” and “Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain.”

Burch’s popular works garnered multiple honors, including four Georgia Children’s Book Awards.

In November, Burch became the first recipient of the W. Porter Kellam Lifetime Achievement Award.

Named for the director of the University of Georgia Library from 1950 to 1973, the Kellam Award was estsablished to honor outstanding contributions to literary life in Georgia.

Robert J. Burch Elementary School in Tyrone is named after the author.

Burch was born in Fayette County and grew up here with his seven brothers and sisters.

Despite the economic hardships of the 1930s, Burch managed to stock up enough happy memories from his early years to fuel his beloved writings; most of which take place in rural Georgia during the depression.

Although Burch spent much of his life in Fayette County, he also traveled extensively.

In the book jacket from “Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain,” Burch said, “I admit to being something of a gypsy, having lived in Tokyo, london, and New York. Freighter travel interests me and I have circled the globe.”

According to Sam Burch, Robert never married or had children of his own, but always loved kids.

Burch’s colorful, unique and sometimes mischevous characters have entertained and educated several generations of American children.

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