Joe Burgoyne ran his family’s concrete block business with his brothers, and his job description could have started and ended with just one word: friendship.
“There was no such thing as a stranger in my father’s life,” said his son Chris. “There were just friends he hadn’t met yet.”
Whether handling sales and marketing for Ideal Concrete Block Co., assisting numerous Waltham committees, or encouraging his children to invite friends home for dinner, Mr. Burgoyne was a magnet for new acquaintances and new connections.
“Someone once said, ‘If you’re not friends with him yet, you’re about to be,’ ” his daughter Molly recalled. And though Mr. Burgoyne died young, those friendships made his life add up to more than the sum of his years. “We keep saying that he lived many lifetimes in his one,” she said.
Mr. Burgoyne, a leader in state and regional lumber and masonry associations, and a stalwart of Waltham’s civic and booster organizations, died Friday in Miriam Hospital in Providence from a heart attack he suffered while participating in a trade show nearby. He was 62 and had lived in Waltham all his life.
“He was a very quiet benefactor for hundreds of causes and never once wanted any credit or publicity,” said Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy. “He was a hometown guy who did really well and always gave back. And I’m very proud to be called his friend.”
He was part of the third generation to run the business his family started in Waltham in 1923. As he marketed concrete paving stones, retaining walls, fire pits, and the wares of a True Value hardware store that was built on his family’s first work site, Mr. Burgoyne “was so proud to follow his father and grandfather,” said Larry Nicolai, senior vice president at the company, who admired how his friend of nearly 50 years assisted others with no fanfare.
“As long as I’ve worked with Joe, he never strutted his stuff,” Nicolai said. “Many times he did things on a very discreet basis, whether he was fund-raising or helping individuals who needed a helping hand. You learned about it after the fact, if you did it at all.”
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, a former state representative from Waltham, said that “Joe was a businessman, but he cared incredibly deeply for his community, and his influence was felt not just throughout Waltham, but across Massachusetts and the United States. He was one of those guys who made his community better not just by his good acts, but by investing in leadership.”
Mr. Burgoyne “was a shining example of how one should live a life. The way he was involved with the community, the way he gave back to the community, is something I strive to live by,” said Chris, who lives in Washington, D.C. “There’s not a Little League dugout in town that doesn’t have some kind of Ideal Concrete Block connection. There wasn’t an auction that didn’t have something he donated. ‘No’ wasn’t in my dad’s vocabulary. It was, ‘How can I help you?’ ”
The oldest of six siblings, Joseph L. Burgoyne III grew up in Waltham, a son of Joseph Jr. and the former Mary Rose McLaughlin.
Years before graduating from Waltham High School in 1973, he was already pitching in at Ideal. “He started in the family business at the age of 12 stocking shelves,” Chris said. “Then he would be out in the yard, stacking the pallets with bricks, and then sweeping the floors in every department. There was no task too small, no task too big.”
Mr. Burgoyne was a teenager, spending the summer at Green Harbor in Marshfield, when he met Trisha Walsh, whom he married in 1978.
“They had been together since they were 16 years old, so they were best friends, which was pretty amazing,” said their daughter Erin Donovan of Dorchester. “You could tell that, the way they were parents to us. They did everything together and she brought out the best in him. They had the shared values of faith, family, and friends.”
Patricia Burgoyne “allowed him to be who he was,” said their son Joseph IV of Waltham. “My dad was known for his entertaining — he loved to have a good time. He loved to entertain and my mother let him do what he needed to do. That partnership they had allowed my father to really flourish.”
Mr. Burgoyne received an associate’s degree in business from Bryant & Stratton College, and throughout his life, in his own version of no-friend-left-behind, he made sure boyhood Little League buddies were still pals in middle age.
“He was known everywhere,” the mayor said. “If you went anywhere with Joe, it was unbelievable. He knew hundreds and hundreds of people.”
Mr. Burgoyne was part of the Massachusetts Retail Lumber Association for decades, chaired its legislative committee, and was named Lumber Person of the Year in 2008. He also belonged to the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, the Massachusetts Building Congress, and the New England Concrete Masonry Association, and he was a leader of the service organization the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo.
His organization memberships and board service in Waltham included assisting the Community Access Corporation for cable, West Suburban Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls Club, Lions Club, Elks Lodge, and Sons of Italy, and he supported sports teams from Little League to Waltham High to Bentley University. Last year, he received the Waltham Chamber of Commerce’s Community Achievement Award.
“Someone said to us that he did so much for others that it took away from his time with us, and we said we really got to live life through his eyes,” said Molly, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “While he was giving back to the community, we got to have a front seat next to him.”
In addition to his wife and four children, Mr. Burgoyne leaves two brothers, John of Westford and James of Nashua; three sisters, Jane Burgoyne, Mary Anne Gemma, and Margaret Anne Bulger, all of Waltham; and five grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Thursday in Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Church in Waltham. Interment will follow in Grove Hill Cemetery in Waltham.
A bit of a prankster, Mr. Burgoyne “was always happy,” Molly said, but with his grandchildren “he had a special twinkle in his eye. They made him so, so happy. He definitely was very lucky that he got to experience that.”
When Mr. Burgoyne collapsed, he was at a trade show he had attended annually for decades, spending time with his numerous close business associates. “It was telling of my dad that he was around people, outside his family, who he loved the most,” Chris said.
“My dad’s a legend in the industry,” said Joseph IV, who was there that day. “I was with him when he passed away. My last couple of words to him were very, very somber, but I’m forever grateful that I was holding his hand when he moved on to God.”
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