Family Matters

Give Me the Roses While I Live

When Charles Vernon Burgin (son of Lee George "Swatsell" Burgin) was told that he only had a few months to live. He told his wife that he didn't want a traditional funeral.

#152641CF Charles Vernon Burgin

"He said, Those flowers won't do me any good because I won't be here to see them. If the preacher says, 'Charlie was a good man,' I'll never hear it. If you lean over me and tell me you love me, I'll never hear it," said Charlie's wife Rosemary.

The couple decided then, rather than a funeral, they would hold a "going home party" for Charles, Saturday Sept. 23, 1995 at the couple's home in Lonsdale.

"I'd like to see everyone show up that can. I don't have no animosity towards anyone," said Burgin, who had found out in June that he had lung cancer. He had undergone radiation treatment, but the cancer had still spread to other parts of his body and doctors didn't expect him to live long.

Charlie was confined to a wheelchair and taking medication to control pain, but he was pleased to be at home. "The only things I'm gonna miss when I leave this world are my wife and my four dogs," he said.

Rosemary Burgin said she wasn't sure the party was a such good idea until she talked with a neighbor whose husband had died recently. She said there had been over eighty bunches of flowers sent to his funeral and she would have given anything if her husband could have seen that. "I made up my mind right then an there that Charlie was going to have this party," said Rosemary.

The party was held as scheduled at the couple's home. About seventy people showed up with flowers, cards and covered dishes. Several local and state elected officials were also in attendance. The Three Rivers Band, a gospel and bluegrass group from Morristown, TN provided the entertainment. The Rev. Pete Koster, pastor of Seymour Community Church spoke to the group.

Charlie died at home two weeks later, at 4:25 a.m. Monday October 9, 1995. Rosemary was at his bedside, singing and reading Bible passages to him. "He got both his wishes . . . he got his party and he got to die at home," Rosemary said.

Charles Vernon Burgin was buried at the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on the Lyons View Pike. Surviving were: wife Rosemary, daughter Debbie Burgin, brothers Eugene Burgin, Bob Burgin, and Joe Burgin.

Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel, September 20, 1995, by Ed Marcum