Effort started by Burgess' son ends, with success, after his death
A son's effort to honor his late father ended when the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to name the Champaign postal facility at 302 E. Green St. for James R. Burgess Jr.
The senior Burgess was the first and only African-American elected to a countywide office in Champaign County (state's attorney in 1972). He also served as U.S. attorney in southern Illinois and as a leader of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first African-American armored unit to enter battle in World War II.
"Naming a post office in Champaign is a fitting tribute to Mr. Burgess' distinguished record of service, both as part of our nation's military overseas and right here in central Illinois," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. "I am proud to join my colleagues in completing the effort undertaken by Mr. Burgess' late son, Steve, and family to honor this longtime public servant and trailblazing Illinoisan."
The effort to have the postal facility named for James Burgess was undertaken by his son, Steve, who died suddenly last November at the age of 55.
"Since Mr. Burgess' passing in 1997, constituents in my district and especially his son, Steve, have been looking for a way to commemorate the achievements of his life," said U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, the chief sponsor of the House bill. "When I was first elected two years ago, Steve approached me, seeking my help to honor the life and legacy of his father. It's taken a lot of time and work and while I'm proud that this bill is headed to the president's desk, I have a heavy heart. ... Steve worked tirelessly over the years to get this project to the finish line, and it's heartbreaking that he won't be able to see it through to completion."
Read more here.