James Edward Burrows
July 20, 1936 ~ January 11, 2019
His life deteriorated by an avalanche of illnesses, our beloved father, the patriarch of the ever-expanding Burrows clan, shed his mortal coil in the early hours of January 11.
Jim was born the youngest of two sisters and one brother in Whites, Texas. While still just a toddler his father Walter and mother Faye packed up their brood like thousands of other dust bowl refugees, stowed all their possessions in an old jalopy, and headed for Californy. Apparently with enough Do-Re-Me to gain entry, they immediately set about literally picking prunes. His youth would be spent bouncing between Santa Clara Valley and the Eastern Sierras following the work, eventually settling in Los Gatos.
As a four-letter athlete at Los Gatos High he first laid eyes on Janice June Billingsley. Seemingly out of his league since the Billingsleys not only lived in the Saratoga Hills Uplands, her father Al had built most of it. Not to be deterred, eventually the Burrows charm and true love prevailed. They were married on August 11, 1956. Daughter Michelle and son Bruce would follow in quick succession. Father in law Al would purchase a large swath of land east of Dayton and relocate with Jim and Janice in tow. It was nothing more than sagebrush and rattlesnakes with a rundown potato farm. In a few years it would become five-acre parcels known as Dayton Valley Ranches. Jim would work on the potato farm and in the early development of the roads and wells. They would secure two five-acre parcels for themselves, one of which the site of a new family home for his ever-growing brood, doubling in size with daughter Leslie and son Steven. All of the outpost families that braved Dayton Valley in the early days were well populated, not a lot to do on those long desert nights.
It was in the early sixties when Jim began to drive trucks and operate heavy equipment. First for Ormsby County and then onto Savage Construction the main Ready-Mix operation in Carson City. He started out as a driver and eventually worked his way up to Plant Manager before moving to the other side of the chute and taking on the pour and placement part of the trade. (a decision universally praised or cursed depending on what day you talk to his descendants). He settled in doing raised floor residential foundations for Cecil Condos. Single family tract homes such as the Huffaker Hills in south Reno. For this he adapted a highly efficient form system we still use today. By the end of the decade he was ready to break out on his own and in 1971 started Burrows Concrete, just in time for Carson’s first big boom. With the help of Ron Kitchen, he was able to land the contract for the new Sky Ranch development in South Carson. Not only would this be his main account for the next ten years he would buy a home there as well and move the family, now with sons Kevin and Michael, into town. Burrows Concrete would also have contracts with G.S. Richards, Ed Fergusan, and Wagner realty. There were many big projects as well, including the Capital grounds, where the custom curved sand-blasted benches survive to this day. These were heady days, but success brings its own problems and pressures, of which Jim and Janice’s marriage would become a casualty. They would divorce in 1978 after 21 years and six children. Jim would go on to marry three more times but would always hold a special place in his heart for Janice and they would remain dear friends to their last days. Jim was on the move in the eighties first to Hayden Lake, Idaho then back to the Santa Clara valley. He started as a form-setter for Nance Concrete out of Milpitas before quickly moving to operations manager and guiding the floundering company back to solvency. He left to form his own Concrete branch of Birch Construction in 1989. In 1988 his fourth and final wife Cynthia gave birth to another boy James Jr. (J.J.) giving him enough sons to form a basketball team. In what had become a rite of passage, all of the boys at one time had been to California to work for Dad. Now as Burrows Brothers Concrete was fermenting, it was time to coax Jim back to Nevada to help us establish a new legacy. By 1995 Jim and his new family, which included step-daughter Jennifer, were all settled in Carson City, and BBC was booming. More than just an integral part of bidding and strategy, he was our go to field foreman on all our most challenging jobs. We worked him hard, young and dumb we thought we knew everything, and we had our spats, but the bonds formed through trial and accomplishments are eternal. It was an invigorating new beginning, picking up old friendships and making plenty of new ones. Guiding us as we began our own families, bought our own homes, and most importantly, raised his grandchildren. Everything coming full circle we would all move back to Dayton, where Jim would raise his son J.J. alongside the older grandchildren, playing ball and attending Dayton High. It was a Golden era filled with company Christmas parties, concerts, fishing trips, ballgames, holidays at Grandma Janice’s, and lots of forty dollar free lunches.
The economic slowdown of 08 would coincide with Jim’s physical one. The knees, the back, the shoulders, the usual price exacted for a life in the trade started to take their toll. Mercifully retired from the field at seventy years old, he was still bidding jobs, taking meetings, and running errands. The new decade saw the onset of serious health issues. There were prostate problems, pulmonary problems that led to COPD, and after years of clogged arteries, bypass heart surgery in 2014. A knee he had replaced in the eighties fell apart and became infected, leading to another operation his body was ill-equipped to handle. All of this led to inactivity, and as is often the case the less he moved the harder it was to move. From there his quality of life diminished to such a point death came as a merciful blessing. It didn’t happen overnight and there were still joyous moments in those closing days. He was well cared for by his children, especially Bruce who was his constant caretaker, Michael and Tara lived next door and the rest of us were never far away. Sports became a refuge, his Giants, Warriors, and Duke basketball brought him great pleasure, the Niners not so much. He never missed an episode of Judge Judy.
If you knew Jimmy Burrows you liked him. He was well respected by both the men he worked for and those who worked for him. To our employees at BBC he will always be “Papa,” as much theirs as he was ours. To his kids, he will be the one who taught them to love unconditionally. To me he will always be my best friend. He was one of the last of the Oldtimers in a rough and ready trade, where your only as good as your word, and an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay is the only judgement. He lived up to every bit of that and more.
Jim is preceded in death by his brother Walter, sisters Louise and Doris and first wife and mother of his first 6 children, Janice Henman.
He is survived by his children Michelle (Chris Derby), Bruce Burrows, Leslie Burrows, Steven (Tracey) Burrows, Kevin Burrows, Michael (Tara) Burrows, James Jr. Burrows, step-daughter Jennifer (Sam) Soto and last wife Cynthia Burrows. His grandchildren Derek, Micah, Nicole, James, Cory, Neil, Brittany, Forrest, Cheyenna, Jacob, Jessica, Christian, Isaiah, Trevor, Adam, Jeremiah, Brianna and 16 great grandchildren.
It has been an extremely trying eighteen months for our family and we would like to thank all our friends, family, and associates for the overwhelming love and support.
We would like everyone to join us on May 4 at 5 p.m. at the Eagle Valley Golf Club, to share our memories, laughter and tears.