Jeffrey Claude Burnham passed away peacefully at Milford Memorial Hospital, on the morning of Saturday, June 21, 2014, after a courageous six-month battle with colon cancer. He was surrounded by love through many friends and family members in his final days on earth, and has now left this world to live with the Lord. Jeff was 45 years old.
Jeff was born Sept. 13, 1968, at Milford Memorial Hospital. He was the first of three children born to Claude (Skip) and Fay Murray Burnham.
A 1986 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School, Jeff was an offensive lineman for the Vikings football team which won the Henlopen Conference title championship in 1985. He was a 1991 graduate of the University of Delaware where he earned a bachelor of arts in English.
After college graduation Jeff worked with his father in the family business, Milton Sausage and Scrapple, and while managing the meat manufacturing and delivery business, he earned his master's in education from Wilmington College. Jeff then took a high school teaching job at the Sussex County Opportunity Program in Education (SCOPE) School, in Roxanna. He became known as a favorite teacher over the years and helped many troubled teens find their way, through wise counsel, a genuine caring kind of support and skilled guidance. He also was employed at Eddie Bauer in the Tanger Outlets.
Jeff married his soulmate and the love of his life, Tammy Edwards, Jan.18, 2014, a week after his diagnosis. He and Tammy were engaged in December 2012 at the Festival of Lights in Ocean City, Md. at a memorable lighted poinsettia tree.
Jeff was a father figure and source of advice to many youth, students, Little League players and family members. His stepdaughter Susie said Jeff helped shape the person she is today, guiding her to enrich the confidence she always had within her, but hadn't yet shined to the outside world. Jeff knew what to say and what people needed to hear, even when sometimes it wasn't what they wanted to hear. His friends and colleagues commented that he was well-grounded as a source of advice and a great sounding board in a big brother kind of way.
He was known to be a champion of trivia, someone who amazed others with his knowledge of names and details with immediate recall. Having been a Boy Scout, he liked camping, fishing and hunting and enjoyed taking his nephews on summer camping trips and other exciting adventures.
Jeff coached baseball at Milton Junior High, football at Milford High School, and Little League teams in Milton, and served as a role model to many young and teenage boys through these athletic leadership positions. He was said to be an unconditional and loyal friend and was an excellent prose writer.
He was dad to dogs Zoey, Marley and Peanut. He was an avid fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies and could quote stats for players and game plays for this season or from 25 years ago. He loved going to Eagles and Phillies games with friends, brother, nephews and his wife Tammy.
Jeff grew up attending Zion United Methodist Church in Milton, where he was baptized, confirmed, and married, and more recently was attending church at Eagle;s Nest Church in Milton.
Jeff is survived by his wife Tammy; his stepchildren Susie and Thomas; his parents Skip and Fay; his brother Mike and sister-in-law Karen; his sister Cindy and brother-in-law Brent; his nephews, Sean, Mitchell and Anthony; his nieces Sienna and Liliana; and many other extended family members and close friends.
Visitation with the family and a viewing will be held Thursday, June 26, from 12noon to 2 p.m. at Eagle's Nest Fellowship Church, 26633 Zion Church Road, Milton. A celebration of Jeff's life will begin at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Milton. Arrangements are being handled through Short Funeral Services, Milton, and flowers by Hillside Flowers. Those who wish to make a donation in lieu of flowers can make them in memory of Jeff to the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123 or at donate.cancer.org.