Dr. E. Omer Burgert, Jr., 93

Omer Burgert

Dr. E. Omer Burgert, Jr., 93, died peacefully at Charter House on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Omer, called “Junior” by his parents, was born to Eran Omer, Sr. and Dessie Fern Burgert on Aug. 22, 1924, in Glasgow, Mo. During his early childhood, the family moved through Missouri and Kansas, settling in Enid, Okla., where his father was a pastor at Bethany Church and where he met Helen, his future wife. They were married on Sept. 5, 1948.

After graduation from Enid High School in 1942, Omer attended the University of Oklahoma (1942-1947), completing both college and medical school, while also playing football. He was the “Football Physician” and became an All-American end, a member of two Big Six title teams, and was named the OU’s team captain, earning all-conference honors.

Dr. Burgert came to Mayo Clinic after an internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago. His training at Mayo was interrupted by two years in the U.S. Navy, during the Korean War with service at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Parris Island, S.C.

Omer then returned to Mayo Clinic, where he became a key contributor to the growth of the field of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. He was instrumental in early research groups and studies, assisting and fine-tuning advancements to make previously fatal childhood leukemias and cancers not only treatable, but also curable.

Dr. Burgert was a Professor in Pediatrics and retired from Mayo Clinic in 1989, after 33 years of service. He was also a key player in the founding of the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

Omer’s life priorities included faith, family and music. He was active in the First Presbyterian Church, where he sang in the choir and served as an Elder. He was devoted to family, advocating for time and travel together.

Omer played trombone and baritone with various community groups, including The Notochords, Trombones Anonymous, Chatfield Brass Band, and the Rochester Summer Community Band.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one sibling, Reginald Burgert; and by his wife, Helen L. Burgert. Omer is survived by his children, Mark E. Burgert, Stephen L. Burgert, and Carolyn J. Tanksley; his grandchildren, Johann and Martin Burgert, Clara Burgert-Brucker, and Brian and Loren Tanksley; and his great-grandchildren, Madeleine and Annelise Burgert and Blaise Brucker.

A memorial service to celebrate Omer’s life and faith will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at the First Presbyterian Church, Rochester.

Memorial donations may be directed to Mayo Clinic Department of Development for the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology or First Presbyterian Church in Rochester.

Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home in Rochester, assisted the family with arrangements.