John Ambrose Burch Jr. was known around Fayetteville for his daylilies and roses.
By Michelle E. Shaw
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
For the better part of 50 years, friends of Ambrose Burch celebrated his music, his cooking and his entertaining, for starters. But those who didn’t know him personally likely knew his handiwork.
In the ’50s, his day lily gardens, located on property at the intersection of Gingercake Road and Highway 54 in Fayetteville, were once featured as a “Stay and See Georgia” location. And years later, his roses brought scores of people to his home on Stonewall Avenue.
“He was in love with flowers and working in the yard,” said his sister-in-law Annelle Burch, of Fayetteville.
He loved yard work so much, he voluntarily maintained the yard of his next door neighbor, who happened to be his nephew, for which the younger man was occasionally teased.
“I’d go in the tax assessor’s office, which is basically right across the street, and they’d say, “Saw your 80-year-old uncle out there cutting your grass!’” Sam Burch said, with a laugh. “But I’d tell them I didn’t ask him to cut it, he wanted to do it.”
The elder Mr. Burch kept his yard, and that of his nephew, expertly manicured until he moved to an assisted living facility almost 10 years ago.
John Ambrose Burch Jr., a life-long resident of Fayetteville, died Friday at his residence in Azalea Estates after a period of declining health. He was 93. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Fayetteville First Methodist Church. Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home, Fayetteville, was in charge of arrangements.
For 25 years, Mr. Burch was the organist at First Methodist. It was at the church, Dr. Ferrol Sams says, that his dear friend took a moment of personal privilege one Sunday morning, in the early ‘50s.
“It is one of my favorite stories about him,” Dr. Sams said. “In the middle of the church service, he stood up and addressed the minister. He said, ‘Mr. Taylor, I shall continue the service on the piano, my organ is out of whack.’ And he always said I lied about it, but I did not, he said it!”
When Mr. Burch returned from World War II in the ’40s, he took care of some of his elderly family members, Mrs. Burch said, before launching his career in horticulture.
“What is interesting is, his brother Robert Burch, the author, majored in horticulture at UGA and Ambrose majored in journalism,” Sam Burch said.
But before opening his day lily nursery, Ambrose Burch first sold chickens and eggs, Dr. Sams said.
“He was a hard worker and a man of industry,” his long-time friend said. “He was also a damn good organist. If there was a party, well, you never had a party without Brose. You give him two drinks and he could tear up a piano!”
But in the next breath, Dr. Sams said how privileged he was to be considered a friend by Mr. Burch.
“He was one of the finest individuals I’ve ever known,” he said. “I’ve been blessed by having a lot of good friends, but I’ve never had one that I valued more than I did Brose.”
In addition to his nephew and sister-in-law, Mr. Burch is survived by his sister Mary B. Harwood of Charlotte.
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