ForeverMissed
This memorial is in honor of Michael David Burger -  thoughtful son of Donald and Joanne, older brother of Lisa, inspiring partner to Travis, deeply loving father to Zoe, Alex, and Vicky, and caring friend and mentor to so many wonderful people he met on his journey. Michael was 50 years young, loved and respected by many, and will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Memorial Service

Date: Friday, June 19th, 2020
Time: 4:30pm Pacific Standard Time

Location: Fairhaven Memorial Service
Address: 27856 Center Drive, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
This will be a closed casket ceremony, followed by an open reception behind the chapel beggining at 6:00pm.

Due to the current restrictions, there is a limit on the number of people who can attend the ceremony in person. Please contact Andrew Walsh at burgermemorial@aol.com if you wish to be present at the service. We appreciate your understanding.

We will have a Live Streaming option available for those who cannot attend in person.


Memorial Service Live Streaming

Fairhaven Memorial Services is providing a live stream, here:
https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/mission...

Gifts


In lieu of flowers, we ask that you provide a donation for Michael and Travis's children. Please go to our Go Fund Me page to contribute.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/michael-burger-memorial-fund-for-his-children.

All donations will be put in a trust fund to support higher education for Zoe, Alex, and Vicky.



Memorial note from Zoe

I’ve sat down to write something for my dad, Michael David Burger, about 10 times. His writing was so careful, delicate, and thoughtful, and I want my words to do as must justice as they possibly can. My dad was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I mean that with my entire heart. I have never met someone who thought the way he did, cared the way he did, and listened the way he did. One of my dad’s good friends from summer camp, Heath, explained it in the best way possible: “all heart. All brains.” I’ve been thinking about those simple two sentences, and how well they represented who he was. He loved his family and friends with his entire heart, and he cared for what he did with his entire brain. Even though he was my dad, I often felt like I could talk to him like he was a good friend. He would listen to what I said, and offer thoughtful responses in return. This example of love and thought have impacted my life in a way a thousand words can’t describe. And when forever comes, his love will still last. I love you forever and ever, dad.
With all the love in the world,
Zoomonster

Memorial note from Vicky
He was an amazing person, friend, co-worker, dad, you name it! He will always be in my heart. It's hard knowing that he is gone. Dad was so intelligent he even went back to school to finish his degree so he could get an even better job. He was the best dad because he wanted to give me and my brother a better life. He wasn't just a dad to me, but he was also like a best friend. 
I will never forget his amazing personality. He was fun, funny, crazy, a super good cook, and everything me and my brother could ever have wanted. I am so so happy he took us in.
I hope everyone will remember Dad because he deserves to be remembered. Hopefully, if he is remembered enough, then maybe he could have his dream like building his LEGO barn and moving to Maine.

Things are never going to be the same without him.


Memorial note for Travis

How do I begin to describe the impact of the person I chose to spend the rest of my life with? Michael had such a strong presence. I remember the very first time I saw him in person. I was descending the escalator down to the baggage claim of John Wayne Airport. Before then, I had only seen him in a picture. He had an awkward smile, like he knew something you didn’t. I didn’t know how to feel about that at the time. Who was this person really? In our writer’s forum online, and in our trading of emails, and our IRC sessions, I thought I had grown to know him quite well. Understand who he really was, through his writing. That day of our first actual meeting in real-life will remain etched in my mind forever. When I looked at him and he looked at me, I knew he was that same hidden identity I’d had so many late-night sessions with. Whom I had shared so many secrets, deep and personal. And I knew by the way he smiled at me, with that same awkward smile, he accepted me. The way be put his arm around me, guiding me to the baggage claim, helping me get my bag. My legs were weak the entire time. I remember how he made small comments about our online discussions. About the things we talked about and the story ideas we traded. About whom in the crowd of people around us our story characters might be, mentioning these with a slight nod of his head this way or that.

Those discussions were the foundation of our relationship. Frank and honest depictions of characters we realized. Parts of ourselves we felt good enough about to include in our stories. Not that all those parts were ‘good’ per-se, but important, both to the story and to the character. This is how I knew he was my soulmate. We chose so many of the same qualities. The same weaknesses. The same problems. Character flaws we both deeply identified with. Just from our writing, we knew each other. On the page, we didn’t hide our feelings. We let it all hang out to dry. Through the actions and deeds of our characters, through the way they felt and what they thought.

By the time that first day was over, and then the few short days that followed, that small amount of time I could take as vacation on a limited budget, I knew I had found my life partner. I had found the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. To grow old with. To share our stories, of which were so, so many. Although it took us over a year-and-a-half of living apart due to circumstances, we worked through them one small step at a time, until we could finally achieve our dream of being together. First an apartment, save money. Save and save. Michael had a plan, a singular vision of how we could get to where we wanted to go. Michael had a strength, a force of character that gave me little doubt that we could get to where we wanted. Make the life we wanted to have. Our five-year plan. Ten years, and after. All the things we could see and do together. The family we could start.

Michael and I knew we wanted to adopt kids. That was a huge part of our dream. Help kids who were less fortunate. Bring them into our home. Do whatever we could possibly do to make their lives better. Give them chances they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Share our love with them, and hope they benefit from our deep need to help improve their lives. On reflection, Michael was much better at this than I was. He had more experience, and a better understanding of child psychology overall, since that was the degree he chose to pursue in college.

Michael was so great with the kids. With Alex and Vicky, and the few that stayed in our home right before. He could see straight through to the bottom of their problems. He remained objective when they tested, tested, and tested us. He could see their behaviors for what they really were. When to be stern and when to be kind. I couldn’t see things the same way he did. I thought programming computers was hard. Truth be told, this was so much harder, but in the end so much more worth it. So much more fulfilling. Michael made us stay the course. Steered us though all those turbulent waters, all those really tough times. And they were tough. Tougher and more emotional than I ever expected or was prepared for. So many times, I lost my cool, but that was okay, because Michael was there to help me keep a lid on things, to be my rock, to guide me.

I know, from the fifteen wonderful years, amazing years I had the privilege of living with him, that he had a unique ability. To guide people. To mentor them and bring out the best in them. Michael could see things in people that they couldn’t see in themselves. He could see past character flaws, see into the true person, and make that person shine. Michael made me shine. He brought out the best in me. He taught me how to be a better version of myself than I ever thought possible. I learned so so much from him. I learned not only how to write and express myself better in words, but how to behave. How to be professional, how to handle myself in tough situations, and present the best possible image of myself. Michael took a dusty, dirty version of me and made me into something beautiful. Made me into a person that I could take pride in and have the confidence to do what was necessary.

I think what Michael would want people to take from his memory was that hope. The hope he created in you, and all the others he cared about. You may not have been as smart as him, as sharp or had the ease to see ten steps ahead of a problem like he did, but that was okay. He didn’t hold that against you. If anything, he gave you hope there was a solution, that the answers are out there, that there is always a way to solve the unsolvable. He believed that, and he taught others how to believe that, by believing in themselves.

For everyone who knew him, please join me in honoring Michael. In honoring his memory. He created so many stories with so many people. Good stories, stories of success and great achievement. Michael would have wanted people to remember him like this. Remember the stories he created with you. The journey you took together, and how you became better for it.

Travis
Posted by Diane Dao on July 10, 2020
Can't believe it's been a month. I can't even imagine what it's like for Mike's family...Since that fateful day, my "Tribute to Mike" has swirled in my head, but now that I won't allow myself to procrastinate any longer, I find trying to express anything just doesn't make sense. Perhaps because THIS just shifted everything and that there's nothing anyone can do or say really to make this right. All that any one of us can do is try to readjust...

I'm glad that on numerous occasions I let him know just what a surprising impact he had on my life and was forever grateful. We were nothing alike on the surface, but over the course of 8+ years, we realized we were similar in many ways. Through several candid conversations, among many things, he imparted to me "Know your worth and seek out people that value and appreciate you." It's a pretty good guiding principle & this is how I will honor & memorialize Mike. Mike was definitely a force to be reckoned with, but that's because, as others have pointed out, he was powered by "all heart, all brain". Miss you, MB.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Julia Fegel
Very sorry to hear. I learned a lot from Mike; he had a great mind. One of my fondest memories of Mike was at the team offsite in Laguna Beach to take a cooking class. It was a great time.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Mike Duffy
He once put a requirement in a PRD that was all about Minions to see if anyone read the document.  No one ever asked him about it.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Ann Tran
Echoing many of the memories shared. It’s still a shock and very saddening. Mike was unique and polarizing. How deeply he saw the value of our data and the potential it could bring was incredible – smart is an understatement. On a personal note, he was probably the only person throughout the years that would make me want to scream one day and then say aw Mike the next week as we talk about family. :joy: His imprint is still very much part of our ECS journey today. He’ll be missed.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From David Williams
Mike was the worst car driver I've ever known. He had some great qualities besides behind the wheel, however- smart, determined, headstrong (always a plus at ECD- back in the day). Sad to have heard this news, especially with family in tow.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Greg Olson
I interviewed with Mike before I started at “ECD”. We geeked out on build to order systems that we had worked on in our prior jobs. He was also my 1st office mate when I started. Mike helped me learn the ropes. Mike had a passion for quality and was driven to see it through. I also remembered the occasional offsite at the Westin where he played piano. Gifted.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Mike Charyk
Such sad news, but also such a nice collections of Burger memories. I’ll add one- when I was interviewing for my first position at ECS, Greg (Olson) let me know that the position was pretty much mine as long as I didn’t screw up the interview with Mike Burger. After a tough Burger interview (picture the intense Burger stare), I came away feeling “I think I screwed that up.” But luckily I was able to join and then had the pleasure to work much closer with Burger during the early Corvette days. He was really an incredible guy, professional and personally. He’ll be very missed.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Chau Vu
I wasn't sure what to make of him before I knew him, but I always knew he was super intelligent and thoughtful. Once I had direct interactions with him I found him to very personable and even funny. I appreciated when he challenged me to think harder. This is a tragedy and a pretty terrible feeling for me.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Angela Lee
Very sad to hear that.. I was just thinking about him yesterday for some reason and reminiscing the old days when he was in the office just next to my cubicle.. I remember he was incredibly smart and had some radical, but innovative ideas.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
Darrel Huntington
Sad news indeed. I met Mike back when we first started to implement 3BQU on Phoenix and we were sequestered to a war room back in Irvine - he is one of the reasons I have the knowledge I do for report parsing and was the only person who could read the raw data better than I could without using the docs. The timing though - I just thought of him earlier today when the topic of redheads came up - he used to always give me a hard time (good-naturedly) for using the expression "red headed stepchild"
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Phil Stewart-Jones
Very sad to hear this. I first met him way back in the day, when I was still in corporate doing a lot of work with NCAC and CIS Product and we had a cross-BU meeting with ECS. He had a very good understanding of the bureau side - it was a shame that the politics and platforms of the day didn't allow us to push that forward more effectively at that time. But as we moved into the Corvette era, that relationship started to thaw and he helped start some of those conversations up again. Very, very smart and articulate guy.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Seth Holtgrewe
I'm not sure what to write here other than I'm just in shock and so sad to hear this. I was offsite in the trenches with Burger (and Mirza as well) during the Corvette replatform days for over a year. He was an extremely smart individual and while we didn't always agree professionally speaking, we had great respect for each other. I miss the personal conversations we had talking about our families. He had a good soul.
Posted by Andrew Walsh on June 24, 2020
Several people have asked me to explain the puns Mike and I exchanged which were mentioned in the Celebrant's memorial in the service. Puns sometimes don't translate to verbal, so here's what they were.

(1) Mike and I would trade musical and composer puns often. I told him I was going to the store, and had made a Chopin Liszt. [He replied I should stop Messiaen around.]

(2) The big mouse genes exchange ended with Mike referring to Darth Maus. My reply was to mention R0-Dent2. It was the best I could do under pressure.

There were seven and a half years of puns between us. It was a gift I inherited from my father, and was overjoyed to find a new and willing victim. I know I shall never have that kind of friendship again. I was a proud member of Burger's "Happy Meal" team.
Posted by Juliet Aucreman on June 20, 2020
There doesn’t seem to be any good reason to think of Michael in the past tense. For to be with Michael, was to be on a journey of the mind. And here we are – living in our quaking minds as we question the universe, what happened to that great mind we loved tapping into?

Time with Michael was an exploration of thought through a fantastical web of explorative language. Through words, we explored a musical way of expressing ideas. Through the plays of speech, we jostled our minds, carving forward into a constantly morphing universe of humor and intellect.

A flicker of the eye, a pause in a sentence, a word with many connotations – what did it all mean? Whatever that moment led us from and into, a constant twisting road, an odyssey of thought.

Michael has taken on a new place in our minds – perhaps quieter, but deep seated. As I saw him this week in rest, I kept thinking I saw the flicker of a tiny grin on one side of his mouth, as I so often have, and have been right to see. And really, there was no reason to think otherwise. Because there is only so much seriousness that Michael CAN tolerate before some humor breaks out.

Harsh reality mixed with hope, silliness tempered with wizened wisdom, here were the moments that lingered and pushed us forward.

Thank you, Michael, for journeying with me, with us, and for bringing us together towards a higher plane of fantastical thought and living.

Posted by Nelson Yu on June 19, 2020
Like many others, Mike had an impact on my life. Just recently before his passing I was telling someone a piece of advice Mike gave me over 10 years ago when we were at Experian. Back then, I was in my mid-20's and thought I knew everything. I'll always remember. He told me not to take everything so seriously. Crack a joke. Smile. I truly took everything way too serious back then and for the next 10 years. It was not till a couple years ago did I really understand what he meant. Once I took his advice, everything changed. I was happier. Those around me were happier. 

Mike, I'm truly thankful for the opportunity to have met you, worked with you, and learned from you. Know that you played a large role in my professional life that also improved my personal life. Rest in peace friend. 
Posted by Dennis Behrman on June 16, 2020
So sad to hear this news.

I worked closely with Mike for a short but memorable year. I also had the honor of staying in touch with him over the decade since then. I will remember so many great things about him. A brilliant mind. A kind and open heart. Unbridled and unwavering love for his family. Wit. Humbleness. A great laugh.

His friends and loved ones have lost a great man. The world was so much better with him in it. I will miss you, Mike, and hope that our souls cross paths again. Sending my love to his family.
Posted by Jeff Anop on June 15, 2020
Mike and I met years ago between work at two our companies. After many months of discussions and focus, we cemented a partnership that was a vision of Mike's from many years past. I admired Mike's ability to think forward with depth and thoughtfulness. He was very knowledgeable but never in a way where you felt less knowledgeable or inferior.

Mike and I shared a passion for good food and wine and through our business relationship were able to make that a reality. He invited me to the finest meal I have had in my life to date, it was an unforgettable experience. I will never forget that generous offer.

I will remember Mike in many different ways and share in the ways others will remember him: creative, curious, pensive, kind and generous.

It was wonderful to have known Mike, he will be missed. I wish grace and peace for his loving family and friends.
Posted by Michael Kilander on June 15, 2020
I had the good fortune of working with Mike on one of the most challenging projects in my career. Passionate, intelligent, and never one to shy away from a complex problem, Mike inspired us to keep pushing...to accept no compromise. He will be greatly missed.
Posted by Vijesh Jayaraman on June 15, 2020
Mike and I worked together in Yodlee for close to 4 years and, without any hesitation, I would say there was never a dull moment. Mike had so much clarity and, combined with innate confidence, was able to overcome plenty of work-related hurdles. I strongly admit that a lot of his belief had rubbed off on me during our various boardroom meetings as well as one-on-one calls. Most importantly, Mike gave me the required time and space to nurture and work on several ideas.

One of the most important aspects we had in common was that family always assumed top priority - Mike stuck to that even during his visits to India and made sure it applied to everyone.

It was wonderful to have Mike as a colleague - so much learnt and so many more memories created. That makes his loss all the more shocking and devastating as one doesn't come across people like him on a day-to-day basis at the workplace. I pray for him as well as his family. May his soul rest in peace.
Posted by Andrew Walsh on June 14, 2020
Words will never do justice to what Mike meant to me, but fortunately his family fully knows.

I owe so much to this fine man, so deep was his friendship and so giving was his nature, that I tried for many years to figure out a way to repay his kindness and fervent support. I believed I had plenty of time to figure that out, but that was not the case after all, and I am devastated by this. I owe him my career, I owe him my new-found confidence, and I may literally owe him my life.

He often loaned or gave me material items he saw I needed at my low points, but most of all, he gave me the mental and emotional support at crucial moments in my own journey. He helped me back on my feet at two of the most difficult times of my entire life. I was foolish to think that could truly be repaid, but all he asked in return was friendship, honesty, and hard work. Those parts were easy to fulfill.

I will be committed to his family and be there whenever needed. That's the least I can do for the extraordinary man Mike Burger was.
Posted by Juliet Aucreman on June 13, 2020
Living Memory of Michael  By Juliet Morse Aucreman

Early in July, 2007, a man called me, seeking piano lessons for both himself and his daughter. A few days later, I met our formidable Michael – self-assured, quietly humorous, a commander at the keyboard. He was a self-made pianist – he hadn’t taken the conservatory route as I had, but a powerhouse he was, adding either fire or innuendo to every musical phrase, as the music called him. Here was personality, here was flair, here was the ruddy panache a piano can help unfold, with the hand of an artist.

But it was Michael’s mind, floating through those airwaves, that caught my attention. His crafty use of words, his slight smile and deep giggle at all the double meanings of thought – those qualities ignited my mind to a quick alertness.

As I do not teach concertizing players, and since Michael wanted a teacher for both himself and Zoe, I suggested Michael try another teacher. I gave him some references. I was disappointed. “How do I get this guy into my life?” I thought to myself. We talked, we laughed. I remember telling him I hoped I would see him again. In that evening interlude, I still remember the lamp casting a warm glow about him as he beamed with the music.

A few weeks later, Michael called back. He wanted to sign Zoe up for lessons with me. And so, on the lovely morning on July 27, 2007, Zoe and I started working together, and thus began one of the great family friendships of my life. Piano lessons with Zoe – a gift from Mother Earth to me.

Years came and went. Zoe taught me to see the world in a blossoming light. Her humor, her empathy, her sparkle, helped me grow as a person. And all the while, Michael was there, facilitating, watching, jiggling his knee as he often does when he’s amused or deep in thought. Michael was passionate about promoting education and personal development.

Michael, Travis, and Zoe would back me up at all my whimsical piano recitals. Michael would write out thoughtful comment sheets. Michael, Travis, and Zoe would turn up at hospitals and help me load in my gear, and Michael and Zoe would perform alongside my other students. Within their trio, I always felt embraced and cherished. Lessons became paired with lunches in the summertime or dinners during the schoolyear. Travis would often join us, and I’d serve them the most awful boxed wine this planet has ‘ere produced. Their politeness amidst my insult to vino was a testament to our enduring friendship.

Over the years, I was gifted with the opportunity to also teach Alex and Vicky piano. Alex taught me humor. Vicky colored my world.

It is with great pain that I bid our dear friend Michael goodbye. But, even if he tries, Michael will live on in my head, where I have him tightly bundled up, should he dare escape. We are still laughing together about our little favorite shared humor sources – The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, innumerable Monty Python skits, and puns we never had to explain to each other.

I thank the universe for throwing Michael into my path, and for the gifts he continues to give through my dear Travis, Zoe, Alex, and Vicky, and their wonderful extended family and friends.

In Michael’s memory, we must push forward with fresh ideas and a renewed commitment to excellence, gusto and silliness. With the last falling leaf of our great red oak, just watch – just wait. Soon, a new sapling of thought grows within. 

And so, as I had hoped long ago, we shall see Michael again.






Posted by David Padrusch on June 13, 2020
May his memory be a blessing.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Diane Dao on July 10, 2020
Can't believe it's been a month. I can't even imagine what it's like for Mike's family...Since that fateful day, my "Tribute to Mike" has swirled in my head, but now that I won't allow myself to procrastinate any longer, I find trying to express anything just doesn't make sense. Perhaps because THIS just shifted everything and that there's nothing anyone can do or say really to make this right. All that any one of us can do is try to readjust...

I'm glad that on numerous occasions I let him know just what a surprising impact he had on my life and was forever grateful. We were nothing alike on the surface, but over the course of 8+ years, we realized we were similar in many ways. Through several candid conversations, among many things, he imparted to me "Know your worth and seek out people that value and appreciate you." It's a pretty good guiding principle & this is how I will honor & memorialize Mike. Mike was definitely a force to be reckoned with, but that's because, as others have pointed out, he was powered by "all heart, all brain". Miss you, MB.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Julia Fegel
Very sorry to hear. I learned a lot from Mike; he had a great mind. One of my fondest memories of Mike was at the team offsite in Laguna Beach to take a cooking class. It was a great time.
Posted by Karl Arnold on July 1, 2020
From Mike Duffy
He once put a requirement in a PRD that was all about Minions to see if anyone read the document.  No one ever asked him about it.
his Life

How it all began

Michael David Burger was born in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota on June 10, 1970 to Donald and Joanne Burger. And he was smart and curious right off the bat.

Favorite book

"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving was hands down Michael's favorite book.

Favorite Songs

  1. Six String Orchestra by Harry Chapen
  2. Circle Game by Joni Mitchel
  3. You've Got a Friend by Carole King
  4. Tangled up in Blue by Bob Dylan
  5. Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchel
  6. Just One Person - Snoopy the Musical
  7. Seussical the Musical
    1. It's Possible
    2. Alone in the Universe
  8. Into the Woods (Sonhime)
    1. Giant's in the Sky
    2. No One is alone
    3. Children Will Listen
  9.  The King and I - It's a Puzzlement
  10. Evan Hansen - You will be Found
  11. Bridges of Madison County - Million Miles
  12. Being Alive - Company
Recent stories

Les Miserables

Shared by Zoe Burger on June 15, 2020
When I was younger, Les Miserables was my favorite musical. My dad and I shared a love for musical theater. He took me to see it at the Hollywood bowl when I was about 10 years old. I was looking forward to it for weeks. Unfortunately I got sick and missed half of the show. Awhile later, I was getting ready to go to school, when my dad came downstairs and told me to put on long pants and pack arts and crafts because I was “going to grandma’s house after school.” All of a sudden, my grandma showed up to the house. I was surprised, because this never happened. We all got in the car, which was also weird, because my dad always drove himself to work. We were on our way and we passed my school. I knew something was up. My grandma then said she was going to drop my dad off at work first, which also made no sense since my dad’s office was entirely out of the way. All of sudden, we were at the airport. My grandma said we were picking up my grandpa, but then we started to get out of the car. There were multiple suitcases stacked in the trunk that I didn’t notice. Next thing I knew we were on a flight to Washington D.C. We had an amazing week in D.C filled with the classic sightseeing. Towards the end of our trip, my dad surprised me with tickets to Les Miserables at the Woolftrap theater.

Our Never-Ending Story - piano, panache, pomp and circumstance...

Shared by Juliet Aucreman on June 13, 2020

Early in July, 2007, a man called me, seeking piano lessons for both himself and his daughter. A few days later, I met our formidable Michael – self-assured, quietly humorous, a commander at the keyboard. He was a self-made pianist – he hadn’t taken the conservatory route as I had, but a powerhouse he was, adding either fire or innuendo to every musical phrase, as the music called him. Here was personality, here was flair, here was the ruddy panache a piano can help unfold, with the hand of an artist.

But it was Michael’s mind, floating through those airwaves, that caught my attention. His crafty use of words, his slight smile and deep giggle at all the double meanings of thought – those qualities ignited my mind to a quick alertness.

As I do not teach concertizing players, and since Michael wanted a teacher for both himself and Zoe, I suggested Michael try another teacher. I gave him some references. I was disappointed. “How do I get this guy into my life?” I thought to myself. We talked, we laughed. I remember telling him I hoped I would see him again. In that evening interlude, I still remember the lamp casting a warm glow about him as he beamed with the music.

A few weeks later, Michael called back. He wanted to sign Zoe up for lessons with me. And so, on the lovely morning on July 27, 2007, Zoe and I started working together, and thus began one of the great family friendships of my life. Piano lessons with Zoe – a gift from Mother Earth to me.

Years came and went. Zoe taught me to see the world in a blossoming light. Her humor, her empathy, her sparkle, helped me grow as a person. And all the while, Michael was there, facilitating, watching, jiggling his knee as he often does when he’s amused or deep in thought. Michael was passionate about promoting education and personal development.

Michael, Travis, and Zoe would back me up at all my whimsical piano recitals. Michael would write out thoughtful comment sheets. Michael, Travis, and Zoe would turn up at hospitals and help me load in my gear, and Michael and Zoe would perform alongside my other students. Within their trio, I always felt embraced and cherished. Lessons became paired with lunches in the summertime or dinners during the schoolyear. Travis would often join us, and I’d serve them the most awful boxed wine this planet has ‘ere produced. Their politeness amidst my insult to vino was a testament to our enduring friendship.

Over the years, I was gifted with the opportunity to also teach Alex and Vicky piano. Alex taught me humor. Vicky colored my world.

It is with great pain that I bid our dear friend Michael goodbye. But, even if he tries, Michael will live on in my head, where I have him tightly bundled up, should he dare escape. We are still laughing together about our little favorite shared humor sources – The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, innumerable Monty Python skits, and puns we never had to explain to each other.

I thank the universe for throwing Michael into my path, and for the gifts he continues to give through my dear Travis, Zoe, Alex, and Vicky, and their wonderful extended family and friends.

In Michael’s memory, we must push forward with fresh ideas and a renewed commitment to excellence, gusto and silliness. With the last falling leaf of our great red oak, just watch – just wait. Soon, a new sapling of thought grows within.  

And so, as I had hoped long ago, we shall see Michael again.



I love you forever and ever, dad.

Shared by Zoe Burger on June 13, 2020
I’ve sat down to write something for my dad, Michael David Burger, about 10 times. His writing was so careful, delicate, and thoughtful, and I want my words to do as must justice as they possibly can. My dad was truly a one-of-a-kind person, and I mean that with my entire heart. I have never met someone who thought the way he did, cared the way he did, and listened the way he did. One of my dad’s good friends from summer camp, Heath, explained it in the best way possible: “all heart. All brains.” I’ve been thinking about those simple two sentences, and how well they represented who he was. He loved his family and friends with his entire heart, and he cared for what he did with his entire brain. Even though he was my dad, I often felt like I could talk to him like he was a good friend. He would listen to what I said, and offer thoughtful responses in return. This example of love and thought have impacted my life in a way a thousand words can’t describe. And when forever comes, his love will still last. I love you forever and ever, dad.

With all the love in the world,

Zoomonster