Seed World

Putting the Farmer First: Tom Burrus

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Thomas M. Burrus, 68, of rural Arenzville died Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, at his residence.

He was born July 13, 1949, in Jacksonville, the son of Martin Gayle and Jeanette Sullivan Burrus. He married Marcy Bramley of Divernon on Feb. 2, 1969, at First Presbyterian Church in Divernon, and she survives.

Tom also is survived by two daughters, Lori (Tim) Greene of Concord and Gail (Chad) Mitchell of Forsyth; four grandchildren, Griffin Greene, Gannon Greene, Taylor Mitchell and Pete Mitchell; one brother, Todd (Deb) Burrus of Arenzville; and several nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Rebecca Oliver.

Tom had worked at Burrus Seed full-time since graduating in 1971 from Illinois College. He was currently serving as president of Burrus Bros. & Assoc. Growers.

Tom was actively involved in his local community and the seed industry. He served on several boards, including two terms as a board member and former president of Independent Professional Seed Association (IPSA); Illinois Crop Improvement Association; and 33 years as a board member with 6 years as board chairman of Illinois Foundation Seed Inc., building on the work of his father, Martin, who was a founding board member in 1937. Tom also served two terms on the Passavant Area Hospital board of directors, a 5-year term as an Illinois College Alumni Trustee, and as a trustee for Gamma Nu Literary Society. He was a commissioner of Coon Run Drainage District. Tom served in many capacities at Arenzville United Methodist Church.

Tom’s dedication to the independent seed industry was recognized by numerous accolades throughout his life, including the 2010 IPSA Industry Service Award, an Honorary Life Member Award from the Illinois Seed Trade Association, and induction in March 2010 into the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce Agri-Industry Hall of Fame. He also was an ardent supporter of his alma mater, Illinois College. Tom, along with Marcy, was named the 2016 Illinois College Homecoming Parade marshall and received the Young Alumni Award in 1988.

Tom lived his life with enthusiasm and encouragement to all. He loved conversation and the manner in which he asked questions was evidence of his genuine interest in others. His compassion was apparent to family, friends, employees and even new acquaintances. You didn’t have to know Tom Burrus long to recognize he needed 26 hours in every day to achieve goals and set new ones. He promoted what and who he believed in. Tom’s life was exemplified by his strident support and unwavering advocacy of the independent seed industry and the farmers they served. Known for putting farmers’ needs first, Tom truly believed in the value of service and integrity. His passion for the seed business was both obvious and infectious and will leave an indelible mark on the industry that he loved.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, at Grace United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Private interment will be at Arenzville North Cemetery. The family will meet friends from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Arenzville United Methodist Church in Arenzville. Memorials are suggested to Arenzville United Methodist Church, Passavant Area Hospital Foundation or the Independent Professional Seed Association Scholarship. Williamson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be left online at

Source: Legacy