Joseph Lee Burgess, of Easley, husband of Kathy Brazzell Burgess, passed away after a battle with heart and kidney issues on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at his home surrounded by his family. He was affectionately known as Coach, JB, Pa Joe, and Pumpkin. He loved his Lord, his family, and his community. He also loved to make people happy with a good laugh at stories he could tell on himself and others.
He was a 1964 graduate of Pickens High School and played in the first football game in the opening of the original Liberty High School Stadium. After high school, Joe attended The Citadel graduating in 1968.
That same year his coaching career began at Lexington High School as an Assistant Football Coach. He also taught at Pelion High School and served as the Athletic Director. There he coached Boys and Girls Basketball (a total of 4 teams) in the Winter as well as Track and Baseball in the Spring.
In 1969 he became an assistant football coach at Walhalla High School where he also coached Girls Basketball and Golf.
In 1971 he became an Assistant Football Coach at Ware Shoals High where he later became Head Football Coach. He also served as Head Baseball Coach and head Track Coach. The first victory of his football coaching career at Ware Shoals High School came with a victory over Liberty High School at the Liberty High Football Stadium!
In 1975 he left coaching to become Sports Director and Sales Representative at WELP Radio Station in Easley. There he began Buck’s Scoreboard, a weekly scoreboard program reporting high school football scores from all over the Upstate. Coaches and reporters from all over the upstate called in to report on the games. He also announced the games of the American Legion Team in Easley, and helped coach Little League Football with his good friend Charlie Hopkins.
While working at WELP he began a wholesale business known as Carolina Fireworks in Easley. He would go on the road in a pick up truck with a briefcase of examples of the fireworks to take orders and then deliver the orders the same way.
In 1987 he began teaching part time at Liberty High School. In 1988 he became an assistant football coach with the Red Devils. In 1991 he became the Head Football Coach at Liberty High School. He was inducted into the Liberty High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2023.
During his tenure as Head Coach, the football program made it to the State Playoffs every year except one. They won Liberty’s last Conference Championship in 1995. He was named Conference Coach of the Year as well. In 1999 he coached in the SC North/South Football Game in Myrtle Beach, SC.
He enjoyed attending Southern Gospel Music concerts and spending time with family and friends. He was a member of the Easley Lions Club; taught Sunday School and sang in the choir at Liberty First Baptist Church and later at Easley First Baptist Church.
He was so proud of his children and their accomplishments, and was known as Pa Joe to his grandchildren.
Joe was predeceased by his parents, Clyde and Blanche Looper Burgess.
Surviving is his wife of 55 years Kathy Burgess; his children, Jabo Burgess (Angie), Kathy Ann Crowe (Roger), and Jab Burgess (Ashley); grandchildren, Tucker Burgess (Madison), Connor Friend (Seth), Wylie Crowe, Bailey Crowe, Grayson Burgess, Lauren Burgess, and Ryan Burgess; a great grandson, Sullivan Friend; also surviving are his sister, Jane Burgess and his brother-in-law, Capers Brazzell (Deborah).
Funeral services will be conducted 1:00 PM Thursday, January 18, 2024, at Easley First Baptist Church by Rev. Dr. John Adams, Rev. Travis Brooks, and Rev. Seth Friend. The family will receive friends Wednesday evening from 5:00 until 7:00 PM at the Liberty Mortuary. Burial will be private.
Pallbearers will be Al Melton, Eric Houston, Jeromy Arnett, William Peppers, Scott Kerwin, and Andre Robinson.
In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests memorial donations in Coach Burgess’ memory be made to the Liberty High School Athletic Department, ATTN: Football, 124 Red Devil Drive, Liberty SC 29657, or your local high school athletic department.
The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to Pruitt Health Hospice, the 3rd Floor Nurses, Doctors, and Staff of St. Francis Hospital Downtown for their exceptional care that he received along with all the love and support from all our friends and extended family during this time.
The family will be at the home. To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family please visit libertymortuary.com. Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.