Mr. James Burtch
Class of 1953
Career Pathway: Business, Management, Marketing & Technology
James E. Burtch was nominated by Diane Burtch.
Jim moved to Grayling at the age of six and attended the Frederic, Feldhauser and Grayling schools. While in high school, he was a member of the band and the track, basketball and baseball teams. He earned 11 letters and was captain of the basketball team his junior and senior years. He was named to the all-conference second team his sophomore year and the all-conference first team his junior and senior years and was elected captain his senior year. He was also named to the all-state team his senior year, and that year he broke the record for most points scored in a high school career.
After graduation in 1953, he attended Michigan State University on an academic tuition scholarship and was a walk-on member of the MSU basketball team his freshman year. In his sophomore year at MSU, he was a member of the cross-country team and later became its manager. His team won the 1955 Big Ten and NCAA championships.
Jim graduated in 1957 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and an ROTC commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps. He graduated second in his Army’s explosive ordnance disposal school, where he received special training on atomic weapons, including atomic bombs.
In 1958, he was assigned to the 57th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit at Arlington National Cemetery in Fort Meyer, Virginia. His unit was responsible for the safety of the White House, the Presidential plane, the Russian Embassy and the Nike Ajax Missile System that surrounds Washington, D.C., and checked all the potential explosive ordnance in the Smithsonian, Gettysburg and Manassas museums. In 1960, Jim was honorably discharged from the Army as a captain.
He then began his banking career at Genesee Bank in Flint, where he helped design Tele-Farm, the first financial record-keeping management program specifically for farmers through Michigan State University, which helped farmers keep better records and consistent information for banking purposes. As a vice president and commercial loans officer, he was responsible for over $50 million in loans and lines of credit to Fortune 500 companies. He also attended the graduate school of banking at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1970, and taught accounting in the evenings at Mott College for five years.
In 1993, Jim was selected by the National Association of Robert Morris Associates as one of ten commercial lenders from the U.S.A. to design and compose an exam to certify commercial lenders, similar to the CPA exam. As a commercial lender, he also helped many businesses start, grow and expand, bringing much-needed employment to the area.
He continued in the banking business until his retirement in 1997, after 37 years in the business, 14 of them as presidents of Chemical Bank in Albion and Marshall and City Bank of Lansing-St. Johns, which was an over $30 million bank with 15 offices and 125 employees.
He was a Rotary Club member for over 30 years and served as Rotary Club president several times. He was the president of the Albion Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Flint United Way and secretary-treasurer of the Michigan chapter of Robert Morris Associates.
He worked the press box at MSU football games, helping to record official NCAA statistics for both teams from 1986 to 1996, and was in charge of the crew for his last five years. He has also served on the board of directors and as treasurer of the St. Francis Episcopal Church and Thrift Shop. He has been a Crawford County Road Commissioner since 2003 and serves as an executive officer of the 6th Battalion of the Volunteer Defense Forces at Camp Grayling and the president of the GHS Alumni Association.
Jim has been married to Diane Tompkins Burtch for ten years. They own and operate two car washes and a bed & breakfast in Grayling.