Rabel James Burdge thumbnail

Rabel James Burdge

December 14, 1937 -
July 3, 2022

Rabel James Burdge, 84, passed away unexpectedly from this earthly life early on Sunday, July 3, 2022.

The son of Alonzo Marshall Burdge and Mariam Burdge (nee Prentice), and brother of Myron Adair Burdge, Rabel was born in Columbus, OH on December 14, 1937.  He grew up in various towns around Ohio, was active in B…read more

Rabel James Burdge, 84, passed away unexpectedly from this earthly life early on Sunday, July 3, 2022.

The son of Alonzo Marshall Burdge and Mariam Burdge (nee Prentice), and brother of Myron Adair Burdge, Rabel was born in Columbus, OH on December 14, 1937.  He grew up in various towns around Ohio, was active in Boy Scouts earning his Eagle Scout award, and graduated from North High School, Columbus, OH in 1955. He received his Bachelor’s degree (1959) and Master’s degree (1961) from The Ohio State University where he served as president of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and belonged to the Ohio Staters, Inc. He earned his Doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1965 in Rural Sociology. Rabel served on the faculties of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO from 1965 to 1968 (active military duty with final rank of Captain) and University of Kentucky (Lexington) from 1968 to 1976.

He met Sharon Sue Burdge (nee Payne) (1939-1976) at Ohio State and they married in 1962. They had three loving daughters, Stephanie Lee Webster (Charles) of Victorville, CA and twins Jill Marie Twohig (Daniel) of Newton, MA and Amy Louise DeBourget-Horn (Kristian) of Porter Ranch, CA.

He married Joyce Loretta Burdge (nee Piggush 1947) in 1977 in Portland OR. They are blessed with five grandchildren (Charles Matthew Webster, Katherine Elaine Rorabaugh (nee Webster), Tallinn Ophelia Horn, Áine Bridget Sharon Twohig and Fionn Conchobhar James Twohig) and two great-grandchildren (Charles Allen Rorabaugh and Willow Grace Webster).

His distinguished professional career included many national and international academic appointments. He was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he held tenure appointments from 1976 to1996 in the Institute of Environmental Studies and the Departments of Agricultural Economics (Rural Sociology), Leisure Studies (Parks and Recreation), and Urban and Regional Planning. He mentored many graduate students over the years, developed lasting friendships with his students and colleagues, and was always happy to share his knowledge and experience with others.

He was also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sociology and Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA and the School of Australian Environmental Studies, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia where he received the visiting scholar award. In 1984 he was a Resident Professor, Department of Western Sociology, University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and a visiting professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Centre, University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Rabel’s influence was felt well beyond the classroom.  As co-founder of both the Society of Natural Resources (US) and the International Association for Society & Natural Resources (IASNR), he was instrumental in establishing the study of social impact awareness around the world.  In addition to several hundred scholarly articles, Rabel also authored several textbooks that are still in use today, including A Community Guide to Social Impact Assessment guaranteeing that Rabel will continue to educate students for generations to come.

Rabel loved to travel both domestically and internationally and was always curious to learn about other people and cultures. He visited every state in the union (often creating educational themed vacations for his daughters) and over 55 countries for both work and pleasure. He loved to create slide shows and later edited videos of his travels to share them at family gatherings and holidays.

He was as unique as his name and will be remembered for his generosity, acceptance of others, his sense of humor, his ability to tell stories, and his love of nature and being outdoors.

A memorial celebration of Rabel’s life will be held on Friday, July 8th at 2pm at the Burdge home: 210 E Sherwin Dr. Urbana IL 61802.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those wishing to honor Rabel Burdge consider a contribution to one of these organizations: The Nature Conservancy or the Urbana Park District.

Condolences may be offered at www.morganmemorialhome.com.

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