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 Charles A. Burnham


Charles A. Burnham, 84, husband of Maria Piraino Burnham, passed away on September 19, 2019 after a long illness. He was the son of Essex natives, Harold A. Burnham and Ardelle Low Burnham. He spent many happy childhood summers in Essex boating and clamming on the Essex River before settling in Essex in 1961.

He worked as a medical engineer and physicist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) but his avocation was building and sailing wooden boats; a tradition in the Burnham family. Charles was an active member of the Friendship Sloop Society.  With his family he sailed his sloop, Resolute, to vacation in Maine each summer.

Charles loved the Town of Essex and was active in town affairs, including serving on several different town boards and committees over the years. He also served as President of the Essex Historical Society and was one of the founders of the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. More recently, Charles taught a boatbuilding class at the museumís waterline center. Upon completion of their newly built boats, he and his student friends sailed from Essex up the Saugus River and donated the boats to the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.  

Charles passed on his love of boating and boat building to his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Maria, and their children: Deborah Burnham of Los Angeles, CA, Harold Burnham of Essex, and Theodore Burnham of Hamilton, and grandchildren Alden, Perry, Charles, and Jane Burnham. He is also survived by his sister, Lois Hastings Grimwade, and her children as well as many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Charles was educated at Wentworth Institute and Northeastern University. He worked in the Radiology Research Laboratories at MGH, making significant contributions to the development of PET imaging technology. For forty years, Charles rode the MBTA commuter rail from Manchester to Boston making many life long friends.

His family would like to extend special thanks to the Parkinsonís program at the Rose Baker Senior Center, and to all his caregivers at The Residence at Riverbend in Ipswich and Care Dimensions in Danvers.

Visiting hours will be Friday, September 27 from 4-8 PM at the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home, 6 High St., Ipswich. A funeral service will be held on Saturday September 28 at 10 AM at the First Universalist Church of Essex, 59 Main St., Essex.  In lieu of flowers, donations in Charlesís name may be made to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, 66 Main St, Essex, MA 01929.


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