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JOPLIN/CHESTER Lewis Forrest "Lewie" Burnham, 79, Joplin farmer, died Friday, July 12, 2002, at a Chester hospital due to cancer.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Chester Assembly of God Church. Burial is to follow at a the Joplin Cemetery.

Lewie was born June 9, 1923, at Ada, Minn., to Forrest and Alice (Denelsbeck) Burnham. In those early years, he worked with his father and brothers in the Minnesota woods where they cut and sold firewood.

Lewie came to Montana at 15 and took a job on a sheep ranch near Miles City for $1 a day. In December 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served during World War II. He attained the rank of sergeant in the 874th Bombardment Squadron of the 498th Bombardment Group. He served in the Western Pacific and Asiatic Pacific theaters and the air offensives with Japan in the Eastern Mandates. Following his honorable discharge in November 1945, he returned to Canby, Minn., to be near his family.

Lewie began working in the elevator business at Porter, Minn. He met a college student, Dorothy J. Foster, who hailed from Montana. They were married on June 17, 1951, at Bethel Church in Joplin. They made their home at Porter, where Lewie managed the Eagle Roller Mill.

In 1954, the Burnhams came to Joplin to farm with the Foster family. They built a house on the farm and had lived there ever since. Lewie and his brother-in-law, Rolph Foster, were partners in the farming operations for many years. When they divided their corporation in 1997, Lewie took over the farming interests in Hingham and continued to remain active in the business.

Lewie was a member of the VFW Post in Chester and had assisted with many military rites and ceremonies over the years. He was also a member of a special group called The Last Men's Club, made up of military men from the Canby, Minn., community who enjoyed annual reunions every fall.

Lewie served on the board of the Liberty County Conservation District for many years. He was also an active member of the Assembly of God Church in Chester. He enjoyed his life as a Montana farmer and remained a strong conservative in his political beliefs.

In his early years, Lewie enjoyed hunting, fishing and bowling. He always enjoyed playing cards, especially pinochle and whist. During his time at home, he liked to read and was fond of westerns, farm publications and newspapers. He loved to attend auction sales, mainly for the social aspect. He collect hats and caps for the fun of it and also enjoyed working in his garden. He raised asparagus, squash, raspberries, rhubarb and evergreen trees.

One of the highlights of his life was in August 1989 when he took a Tiger Cruise on a naval destroyer at Charleston, S.C., with his son, Mark.

Lewie was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, John, Charles, Ray and Myron; and son, Steven.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Dorothy of Joplin; son, Mark Burnham of Norfolk, Va.; daughters, Susan (Bruce) Peterson of St. Paul, Minn., and Pamela (David) Paulsen of Waterford, Wis.; brother, Francis Burnham of Canby, Minn.; 10 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces.

Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel, Chester.


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