Family Matters

From Humble Beginnings to The U.S. House of Representatives

(Excerpts from the eulogy by Representative Luther Johnson of Texas, delivered at the memorial service for Rep. William Olin Burgin, Tuesday, May 28, 1946. The Speaker, Hon. Sam Rayburn presiding.)

"Mr Speaker: Of the four colleagues in the House who have passed away since our last memorial service and to whom we pay tribute today, the one whom I knew best and had been most closely associated with was the Honorable William Olin Burgin of the Eighth Congressional District of North Carolina, whose death occurred on April 11, 1946. During the most critical period of our history, he served his more than seven years a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and rendered a real service to his country.

#152677 William Olin Burgin

He became a member of that committee when the clouds of war were about to break, or just eight months before Hitler invaded Poland. The importance of the Foreign Affairs Committee at that time and all during Mr. Burgin's seven years service upon that committee cannot be overestimated.

During the two years prior to Pearl Harbor, the committee was not always unanimous as it was after Pearl Harbor, and frequently there was a close division upon legislation referred to it, but at no time and on no bill did Mr. Burgin waver. He stood foresquare for the defense of America and for the foreign policy so ably advocated by our then President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his secretary of State, Cordell Hull.

Mr Burgin was a modest man, he did not speak often, but he had firm convictions which he defended. He had character, ability and a devotion to duty which are essential requisites for service in the house. He was held in highest esteem by every member of the committee, both of his own party and the Republican Party. His passing to me is a personal loss and the Nation and his district have lost an able and faithful Representative.

I sympathize deeply with his devoted wife in her sorrow at his passing and also with the people in the Eighth Congressional District of North Carolina who he had the honor to represent in the Congress of the United States during the most critical period in our history."

#152677 William Olin Burgin was born July 28, 1877 in McDowell County, NC and died April 11, 1946 in Washington, DC. He grew up in Rutherfordton, NC and attended Rutherfordton Military Institute. He began his business career as a clerk in a general store in 1893. Later as a travelling salesman and merchant.

He served as Mayor of thomasville, NC 1906-1910 and two years later attended UNC Law School, after which he began a practice of law. In December of 1912, he married Edith Leigh Greer.

He was President of the Industrial Bank of Lexington and also owned a store there. He served in the State House in 1931 and State Senate in 1933. He was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-sixth, Seventy-seventh, Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Congresses and served from January 3, 1939 until his death in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 1946; interment was at Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, NC. Bill and Edith had no children.

United States Government Printing Office: Washington 1948