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Rest In Peace Atlee Burpee
by Brian Coll
Recently I was shocked to see the news of Atlee Burpee passing away. Shocked is an understatement because Atlee was known to run 100 miles at a time. He was involved with the Plymouth Fire Company and I always seemed to think about him this time of year as I go through my seeds and see what I need for the planting season. The name Burpee seeds has been seen at garden centers and hardware stores for decades. Atlee would occasionally stop by our shop, we’d talk seeds, running (him, clearly not me) and life in our community. We are saddened by his loss and our thoughts go out to his friends, family and those in the running community and firehouse community. There isn’t much we can say that his official obituary doesn’t say.
Here is his official obituary:
Obituary of Washington Atlee Burpee, IV
Washington Atlee Burpee, IV
W. Atlee Burpee IV, a 37-year resident of Conshohocken, PA, passed away in his sleep unexpectedly on Monday morning, February 21, 2022, at the age of 65.
Atlee was born January 9, 1957, in Abington, PA to the late Charlotte (Bates) Burpee and the late W. “Bill” Atlee Burpee III. Atlee was the great grandson of the founder of the vegetable and flower seed company and was raised first on Warden Farm in Doylestown, PA and later in Santa Barbara, CA. He graduated from the University of California Davis in 1979 with a degree in Agricultural Economics and a specialization in horticulture.
After college Atlee returned to Pennsylvania and worked with the Burpee company, which was no longer family owned. He was happiest working with vegetable seeds at the Santa Paula, CA branch and gained solid experience in various departments at company headquarters in Warminster, PA. While his father had focused professionally on flower seeds, Atlee favored vegetable seeds. After his time at the Burpee company, he worked for two other seed companies before settling on Sakata Seed America, Inc. where he has been for the last 25 years, serving as the North America Sales Manager. Justin Davis, Sakata’s Sales and Marketing Director wrote, “Atlee was an exceptionally talented and knowledgeable seedsman who built his career on the principles of courtesy, respect, and commitment…. His true passion and love in life was his family. He was endlessly proud of [them] and was always showing pictures to colleagues while beaming with joy.”
Atlee was a life member of the Plymouth Fire Company and active volunteer firefighter for many years. His hobbies evolved from rock climbing to cycling. He introduced a younger male cousin to the game of pool, another young cousin credited Atlee with his first ride on a motorcycle and Atlee competed with a third cousin for ATV time trials on a homemade track at the Doylestown family farm “Fordhook,” which became the name of a popular variety of lima beans. Over the last eight years Atlee’s sporting passion switched to ultra-marathons of 50 and 100 miles. His capstone feat was completing 242 miles in a six-day race. He commented once that when he and fellow ultra-runners competed in the standard 26.2-mile marathons, these were considered “social events.”
Atlee was an active, committed member of Calvary Episcopal Church, formerly of Conshohocken. He is survived by his wife of 35 years Deborah (Stetser) Burpee, his son Lee Burpee, daughter Lisa (& Scott) Rafter, daughter Michelle Burpee (& Vince Orsini); and his sisters Gaye Burpee, Jeannetta Burpee, Carol Burpee, Emilie Burpee Ryan, Phoebe Burpee McGaw. He is also survived by his grandchildren Shane Rafter, Shannon Rafter, Alexandria Orsini, Ava Orsini; 6 nieces and nephews; and 5 grand nieces and nephews. Atlee is remembered by his family as a kind, easy going, good humored and gentle man.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, February 28, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. Relatives and friends are also invited to the visitation at the church on the same day from 12 noon to 12:45 p.m. prior to the memorial service.
Service will be Live Streamed Click here http://www.theredeemer.org/livestreams
Memorial contributions may be made in Atlee’s name to either: Plymouth Fire Company, 1323 Colwell Lane, Conshohocken, PA 19428 OR Montgomery County SPCA, 19 East Ridge Pike, Conshohocken, PA 19428
Arrangements by Moore, Snear & Ruggiero Funeral Home, 300 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, PA, (610) 828-0330.