Forever Society Spotlight: Remembering Ron Burman, and his beloved wife Valerie

February 22, 2023

Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive OfficerBy Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive Officer

Friends from all over the world gathered in late January for Ron Burman’s funeral. He passed peacefully on January 5 at the age of 89, leaving behind a charitable legacy that will have an incredible impact in the greater La Crosse area and beyond, forever.

In the last few years of Ron’s life, he worked diligently with estate planning professionals to ensure that at his passing his estate could be put to good use for education and arts and culture needs not only today, but into the future through several endowed funds.

Ron’s Charitable Legacy

Ron’s partnership with La Crosse Community Foundation first began in 2016, when he established the Valerie Burman Art Plus Scholarship Fund as a memorial to his beloved, late wife who had passed in 2010. Valerie received awards to pursue a double major in both art and education, culminating with a Masters of Fine Art, the highest degree attainable in her field. She taught at the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, and Western Technical College. The fund awards a total of three annual scholarships to graduates of Logan, Central and Onalaska High Schools who are seeking a double-major in art plus a practical field like education just like Valerie.

In 2021, Ron established the Valerie Burman Master of Fine Arts Fellowship for a University of Minnesota student, and just before his passing established a third endowed fund called the Ronald & Valerie Burman Fund for the Visual Arts to benefit the Coulee Region Alliance for the Visual Arts.

A Tribute to Ron

A colleague and close friend of Ron, remembers him well and shares this beautiful tribute.

“Ron Burman came to the Wisconsin State University-La Crosse in the 1960s, as both a French and English instructor, in a department including Theatre as well.  As the university grew into UWL, he remained in English, specializing in American Literature and Linguistics for teacher education. At the same time, Valerie Burman was teaching graphics arts at Western Wisconsin Technical Institute, later Western Technical College. Students from both colleges, often foreign exchange students, were frequent guests at home parties which became the stuff of legend, many becoming life-long friends. The Burmans’ home contained a memorable display of fine art, including Valerie’s own work, and middle-eastern and oriental collections. Even after acquiring a Ph.D. and becoming a tenured professor, Ron retained an interest in doing a variety of courses, literature and writing, and was among the first at UWL to begin computer-assisted learning.  My favorite department party, hosted by the Burmans, included a bonfire to burn all the drafts and remaining notes of Ron’s dissertation; I wish I’d thought of that!  Ron and Valerie were a lovely couple, deservedly known for their hospitality.”

Tom Pribek, UWL class of 1976 & English Department 1984-2015


I will remember Ron for his joyous spirit and original poems he shared with me (see one below!). In my last interaction with Ron, he thanked me and the La Crosse Community Foundation for our help in bringing his charitable vision to life. He hopes by sharing his story others will feel inspired to consider philanthropy as a part of their estate plans. If you have questions about your own estate planning, I’d love to talk with you.


Were I a squirrel in my own backyard,

I’d peer through the window to see what

that goofy guy inside might feed me today.

I really liked that English muffin,

Hard as a rock and very tasty.

Last week he gave me sourdough heels,

And they set my tail twirling.

Nuts are great fresh I the fall,

But through most months I dig them up

If I can find them at all.

They have a kind of buried musty smell.

I am not past snacking from bird feeders,

But bread and nuts do me nicely well.


I shouldn’t forget my other half.

We make quite a pair, dashing everywhere,

Our brown tails flagging in the air.

She chatters at me and I at her,

a delightful noisy time we share.

At night and on cold, blustery days,

we scurry high in an ancient tree,

that is home to sweetie and me.

When winds and sow rant and blow,

We cuddle, tail entwined in tail,

and think of tasty breads and nuts,

and forget the black fox sneaking around

and what that goofy guy is fretting about.

Ron Burman, December 2020