Mike Burr Memorial unveiled

| September 18, 2019

WARSAW – Mike Burr’s years of hard work and dedication to students and athletes at River View High School will forever be remembered thanks to a new memorial outside the soccer field.

River View’s varsity boys’ soccer team had the honor of unveiling the memorial prior to the start of their Sept. 17 game against Cambridge.

“He loved those guys,” said Linda Burr, Mike’s widow.

Mike, who passed away in June after a long battle with cancer, taught for 35 years at River View High School, coached soccer for 24 years with five of those being as the varsity head coach, and coached baseball for 27 years.

“He loved God, his family, and coaching,” said Jacie Wright, who is Linda and Mike’s daughter.

His granddaughter Avie Wright has lots of memories of watching him coach and said it felt good to see the memorial.

“It’s like he’s still here, but you just can’t see him,” she said.

Elyn Wright, another granddaughter, agreed with Avie.

“I felt sad watching (the unveiling), but I also felt happy at the same time,” Elyn said.

Linda and Mike’s son, Ryan Burr added that his dad was a very good person.

One of the many people’s lives that he touched was Born Sianjina who coached with Mike for 15 or 16 years.

“He was one of the kindest people I’ve worked with,” said Sianjina. “What I learned from him was how to nurture a relationship and about faith – how to be faithful in the good and bad times.”

River View Athletic Director Rod Lindsey believes Mike taught a lot of people about faith.

“The thing that I tell everybody is that once he contracted cancer and found out he had it, the lessons that he taught everyone were just unbelievable,” Lindsey said. “It showed just how strong his faith was and how loving a person he was, not only to his family but to everybody that he touched, whether it was a student, a soccer player or a baseball player. He was truly an inspiration to everybody. The way the boys conducted themselves on and off the field and the fight that they had each and every game came from the ‘Fight Like Mike’ slogan that was adopted. It was a testimony to him and the kids knew it was going to be a struggle for him and they did everything they could to give him the inspiration to keep going.”

The idea for the memorial was organized by Scott Eaton, who has had two sons graduate from River View and play for Burr. It reads, “Don’t be sad when I’m gone, but be jealous because I got there first,” Mike Burr.

“About a month ago Scott Eaton came to us, and talked to Mr. Rinkes (RV high school principal) and we all thought that placing the memorial at the entrance to the soccer complex was the right place,” Lindsey said. “Hats off to everyone that worked on this – they had a lot of preparation work to do and it was more than one or two people that’s for sure.”

He added that Burr wasn’t just a great head coach; he was a great assistant coach too.

“He was the buffer between the head coach and the players and he was a player’s coach,” Lindsey said. “He was that way in the classroom too. He worked with special education kids for a lot of years and the kids looked up to him. He was a very fair individual and there are just so many good memories of Mike”.

Betty Donley, a staple at the River View soccer ticket booth, enjoyed teasing Mike.

“I always teased him because he never wore shoes, and I kept saying, ‘That’s the West Virginia coming out in you,’ and he would laugh and say, ‘It sure is Miss Betty’ in his little southern accent,” Donley said. “He was just a joy to be around, and very pleasant all the time.”

Both she and Sianjina said Mike also will be remembered for his sayings.

“He always had a saying of some sort – that no one else had,” Donley said. “That was Mike for you. He was always uplifting people – and he wanted the best for the boys. Play your hardest but have fun at the same time. That was how he lived and what he tried to instill in the boys.”

Editor’s note: Josie Sellers and Mark Fortune contributed to this story.

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