AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Friday, May 2, 2014
Sign Keeps Legacy Of Lee Burchill Alive
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, May 2, 2014.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
Saturday, Norton Youth Baseball will begin its 60th year of
operation (according to unofficial records).The Opening Day ceremonies will be held and a new sign dedicated at the fields
on Plain Street known as the Lee Burchill Complex.
may have driven past the fields, taken children to practice or play there, or
just driven by and seen the old Burchill sign.Maybe you wondered who Lee Burchill was, and why the fields were named
after him.Maybe you saw it and the
thought never crossed your mind.
from Norton, and folks in general, need to know this story.And since there are fewer and fewer townies
like me left who have known and admired Lee and his family, there is a need for
the story to be told.
Burchill was a Norton High School senior in the fall of 1972.A good all-around athlete with a quick laugh
and cocky attitude, he could both make you laugh and tick you off with equal
particular fall afternoon he had just led his football team to a near upset of
heavily-favored Case High School.After
the game, the young quarterback went to the home of his best friend in
there, Lee was somehow shot in the head by his friend.It was ruled accidental, though there were
many who questioned it.The only thing
we know for sure is - that day life was forever changed for Lee and his family..
shotgun pellets lodged in his head, Lee became a quadriplegic.It was a miracle he survived at all.He would spend the next nine years immobile
and in considerable pain before passing away.
nine years were far from unproductive.Lee took on his physical limitations like he did everything prior to the
shooting – as a challenge.
over a year from the incident, he did the unthinkable.Through tutoring and hard work, he earned his
high school diploma.We teased him and
asked what took him so long.He laughed
along with us at the joke.
he was in May of 1974, in cap and gown, being wheeled down the aisle by his football
coach to graduate with my class.
To see what
Lee went through on a daily basis was astounding.His courage was inspirational.Perhaps just as much so was how his family
stayed by him and sacrificed for him.Though in truth, they never seemed to consider it sacrifice.
Rita was an amazing woman who helped take wonderful care of both her sons.I say both because Lee’s younger brother Joey
suffered from a long illness and also died at a young age.It all took a toll on Rita, who passed away
far too soon.
left Lee’s dad Fred as the lone surviving family member.After suffering the death of his wife and two
sons, no one would have blamed him if he chose to wallow in despair and let
what was left of his life fall apart.
it is clear where Lee got the courage and determination
he showed in his life.He obviously
inherited it from his father.
a Norton resident to this day, and is a regular visitor to the family grave. Most
of us cannot imagine what he has been through, but all of us can appreciate the
courage and class with which he has done it.
new Lee Burchill Complex sign could easily refer to their entire family – but
it doesn’t.It is in honor of Lee, who
received the rawest of deals from life and strove to overcome it.A self-assured, self-confident teenager who
suddenlly had to rely on others to take care of his most basic of needs.A young athlete no longer able to walk, but
working hard at it until the day he died.
next time you go by the sign at the Burchill field, see if it looks any different
now that you know the story.That sign
is the symbol of a town’s respect for one of its own, and intended to help
guarantee the story of Lee Burchill is passed on to future generations.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and lifelong
Norton resident.He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at