Michael J. Burrill (1944-2019)



The class has learned of Mike's death on May 12. His wife Marilyn and daughters Jennifer and Cynthia were at his side.


PAW Obituatry



Michael died May 12, 2019, in Cincinnati surrounded by his wife and daughters.
He came to Princeton from Honolulu’s Punahou School, where he served on the literary magazine and played tennis.
At Princeton Michael played in jazz and rock bands, majored in architecture, and joined Terrace Club, Princeton Outing Club, and the Air Force Drill Team. In 1968, he earned a master’s degree in architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis. Later he received a master’s in community planning from the University of Cincinnati.
In our 50th Reunion Book Michael reported retiring twice: from 20 years as an Air Force officer specializing in architecture and facility planning and management, and from 13 years as campus planner for the University of Cincinnati, where his work assisted the institution in gaining national recognition for campus design.
After retirement, he pursued his interest in model railroading and wrote a book on sustainable public transportation systems, Sustainable Transportation and Development. He also developed a website, GrowSmartPlanet.org, focusing on green living and transportation.
The Class extends its sincere condolences to his wife Marilyn, daughters Jennifer Paz and Cynthia Jane Evans, brother Richard, step-sister Carla Allison-Miller, and three grandsons.


Classmate Memories


Please send memories, photos, or other thoughts to John Hart (jmhart62@gmail.com); they will be added to this page as soon as possible.


Dave Lee.

I first met Mike at Princeton during my one year in Air Force ROTC, which after one ride in a T-34 jet trainer proved to me that I was not born to fly. The Air Force was Mike's calling though, and after majoring in architecture he worked for the Air Force his entire career, designing and building many military facilities.


I got to know Mike much better when we both ended up in Cincinnati, OH for career purposes for quite a number of years. We were there 11 years and overlapped for much of that. He stayed on after we returned East in 2002.  He had retired from the Air Force but signed on with University of Cincinnati to help design and build one of the largest campus expansions in American academic history. Mike became active in the Ohio Valley Princeton Association, of which I became President and he and Marilyn visited our home there. He helped OVPA to win the San Antonio Award as a well run smaller alumni group. Mike maintained an active interest and expertise in light rail public transportation, even running a website on the topic. I believe he helped encourage Cincinnati to build a light rail transit system that runs from Symphony Hall in Over the Rhine down to the Riverfront Park in the Ohio River, where the Reds and Bengals stadiums, and museums now stand. Mike had many great stories from his days at the Punahou School in Hawaii(now Obama's school too). I believe they sent about seven students to Princeton in our year. Mike had an infectious enthusiasm and zest for life, and love for Princeton, which he wanted to support in many ways.  Mike also got to visit our home in West Medford, MA, and last May we saw him and Marilyn in Cincinnati when we returned to our former stomping grounds to visit old friends. He was able to attend a reception we had at the Omni Netherlands hotel, one of the many Cincinnati capitols of Art Deco, along with the railroad station and museum center. Mike was always a pleasure to be with. He had a high intelligence, a ready sense of humor, and was a really positive person. When his daughter suffered back problems, he researched a new surgical technique practiced only in Germany, and flew her there for successful surgery that restored her mobility. He is a keen loss to the spirit of the class, and of course to his beloved family.


Bob Nahas.

I got to know Mike better when he became an Annual Giving solicitor. He was a stalwart of the annual campaigns, taking on over 40 prospects. The work clearly became a labor of love for him as he diligently wrote and mailed letters to all his prospects. I believe his enthusiasm and diligence inspired other volunteers to do more. While I got a lot of the accolades as Class Agent, it was the efforts of people like Mike that made our campaigns successful.


While Mike mentioned his involvement in Air Force and University of Cincinnati projects, it was in a passing way. I hadn’t realized until reading David Lee’s remembrance, how big a role Mike played. He was the most unassuming person I knew, particularly considering his accomplishments.


It was always a pleasure to see the broad smile on Mike’s face when he would talk about Marilyn and their daughters. While Princeton and his work both meant a lot to him, nothing was more important to him than his family, and his love for them was front and center.

David Williams.

Mike and I did not know each other while at Princeton. At one of our reunions I saw his name on a list of attendees. The name struck a familiar note. I remembered my mother telling stories of a beau, "the one that got away." My mom, Virginia Williams (nee French) was born 1917 in Milwaukee. She went to West High School. So did John Burrill, later to be Mike's dad. To hear her tell it she was smitten by John. To her dismay he left Milwaukee to go to Annapolis. (I may not have this exactly right, there may have been a prep military academy before Annapolis.)  They dated for a time even while he was away at school. The attached photo is them at a ball with John in his plebe uniform. 
Fast forward to about 1960. My family lived up a long drive in a very rural area west of Milwaukee. The Burrills still had connections in Milwaukee. Mike told me that he remembered a family trip there. I was standing in the living room of our home and to my amazement I saw a very handsome man in dress Navy uniform striding up our drive. It was Mike's dad come to visit his old flame. He and my mom had what she described as a wonderful long talk.

Once Mike and I made our connection we shared many stories about our parents. At a later reunion Mike brought an album with photos of his dad with my mom. That is how I came by this photo. But for a twist of fate we could well have been brothers. In fact, I consider Mike my half-brother.


John Hart. I met Mike several years ago and have enjoyed communicating with him and sharing stories and common interests. Mike's efforts for the class during Annual Giving campaigns was always astounding. He contacted numerous classmates and was quite successful. Mike also mentioned his interests in model railroading and his current small scale projects. This led to his first "66 Story" which is a photo essay of the latest project. Mike was working on another story, never completed, about his time in the Air Force and his resulting thoughts about nuclear weapons.


Bill Price.

Mike was my roommate freshman year in drafty Witherspoon Hall (with Joseph Mattison and Jon Friedman) and a friend every since.  He launched my appreciation of jazz with Dippermouth Blues and multiple versions of Saint Louis Blues on his 'HiFi' record player.  He was one of the principals in the conversion of Terrace Club's dirt basement into an attractive social room - much appreciated ever since.


Barry Steinberg.

Mike was my room mate junior and senior year, in Holder Tower along with Ed Coe and Rick Bradstreet. As Architecture students, Mike and Ed converted the complex into a great living setup, with two bedrooms, a  "study room," a "party room," and a large storage area made into a hideaway where Mike kept his set of drums and occasionally one of our girlfriends would sleep over the week end away from the prying eyes of the proctors. I remember Mike as always good-natured and cheerful. I can still hear his shrill, infectious laugh filling the stairwell connecting our rooms. In the last twenty years or so, he lobbied us relentlessly to come back to Princeton for reunions.  He finally got us back together for the 50th.


Photo Archive

The two photos at the top are from the Freshman Herald and the Nassau Herald. The ones below are from Mike's class directory page and the class photo archive.


Marilyn and Mike in 1965 (Air Force ROTC Ball) and 2016 (50th Anniversary)



With daughter Cynthia Jane (2013) and Cynthia Jane's 2015 wedding to Greg Evans



With Lola


With Marilyn