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IREM marks the passing of Eugene Burger, CPM®, and real estate management legend

IREM® has been blessed with many remarkable leaders throughout its history – individuals who’ve been thought leaders in the industry, have been role models who inspire others, and those who’ve elevated the real estate management profession through their business and personal lives. At the top of this pantheon was IREM’s 1981 President, Eugene J. (Gene) Burger, CPM®, CRE, who recently was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gene Burger earned his CPM in 1969 and went on to become a fixture at IREM for nearly 50 years, present whenever and wherever IREM members gathered to lend a hand or tackle a problem or enjoy the camaraderie of colleagues. “Gene’s contributions were always selfless,” said Jo Anne Corbitt, CPM®, IREM’s 1997 President. “He assisted in the classroom, in the boardroom, anywhere someone needed assistance or guidance, always in a kind way.  Gene's talents and heart gave him the right combination to aid many in their efforts to learn and grow, to progress in their endeavors. His great efforts contributed to the advancement of professionalism to so many.  He was a friend, teacher, counselor to all who were lucky enough to know him.” Indeed, it’s fitting that he was a recipient of the prestigious J. Wallace Paletou Award. Presented by the IREM Foundation, it’s bestowed upon someone who’s made significant contributions to the real estate management industry, and has contributed to the betterment of society as a whole, A perfect description of Gene Burger.

For many CPMs who sat in IREM classrooms in the 1980s and 1990s, Gene was who they learned the business of property management from. As an IREM instructor, he willingly shared his wisdom, experience, and insights with students around the country. The knowledge he took into the classroom and the caring he displayed to students were formally recognized in 1996 when he received the Lloyd D. Hanford Sr. Distinguished Instructor Award, identifying him as one of the Institute’s best.

Another recipient of Gene Burger’s time and talent, as well as his treasure, was the IREM Foundation. He served as the Foundation’s president in 1988-1989, having been on the board a number of years before and after. His belief in the valuable role played by the IREM Foundation was further evidenced by his financial contributions over the years. He was a major contributor at the Sapphire level and joined its Legacy of Leaders when he made a planned gift to the Foundation to help ensure its ability to fulfill its mission well into the next decade.

In his business life, one of Gene’s areas of focus was affordable government-subsidized housing for persons with low incomes. This interest was evident in his participation on the IREM Federal Housing Advisory Board.  “Gene dedicated much of his leadership energy over the past 20 years to his passion for affordable housing via his contribution on the IREM Federal Housing Advisory Board (FHAB),” said Pamela Monroe, CPM®, IREM President in 2000 and a colleague on the FHAB.  “Gene was a constant voice for IREM member stakeholders who own and manage affordable housing,” she said. “Because of Gene’s leadership and passion for advocacy, IREM has been a leading force for major HUD issues over the years.”

Indeed, affordable housing had been part of Gene’s property management portfolio from the very beginning of his company. Eugene Burger Management Company (EBMC), accredited as an AMO® since 1969, was founded in 1968 by Gene Burger and his partner, Theodore Barclon, under the name Barclon-Burger Management Corporation. A decade later, as their business styles and goals began to diverge, the two partners agreed to divide the business. Gene retained the original company charter, adopted a new corporate name, and led the company to grow into the strong business operation it has become with 12 offices in California and Nevada.

The company’s purpose, according to EBMC’s website, is to “create a family culture where our employees and clients thrive and we bring together a diverse team to challenge the status quo and build value.”  With Gene’s caring leadership, this purpose was realized. Gene remained active in the firm and was its chairman and CEO. His son, Stephen Burger, CPM®, is president and COO. His daughter-in-law, Lori Burger, CPM®, IREM’s 2015 President, is senior vice president and secretary of the corporation. His wife, Shirley Burger, his partner in both business and life for more than 50 years, is senior vice president and corporate treasurer. As EBMC’s website so fittingly proclaims, “What started out as a dream between a husband and wife has blossomed into an innovative and service-oriented business.”

After bravely battling COVID-19, Gene passed away on February 18 at his Nevada home, surrounded by his family, including his wife Shirley. A celebration of his life will be planned in the future. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada or the IREM Foundation.

Comments

This is indeed sad news. For all of us coming through the ranks of IREM in the Bay Area in the 1980's, 90's and beyond we were so fortunate to have Gene Burger (and Steve and Lori) as respected, generous and treasured leaders.

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My first encounter with Gene was with him installing me as a CPM into membership in IREM, back in the fall of 1980, just his election to the office of IREM President. Over the the years we served together on the Federal Housing Advisory Board for quite some time together.. My wife and I became very close friends with Gene and Shirley. I was able to spend many occasions with him apart from our IREM relationship and I came to really know the professional, the person and to gain knowledge form my association with my dear friend Gene Burger. He was a real estate management icon and will be missed by many.

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Shirley, and Family, So Sad. Having been a part of IREM, and enjoying the many experiences, and memories with the Burgers, over the years of our friendship, are indeed cherished. Gene will be missed by all, Bob and Susan Britigan

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I met Gene on September 11, 1974 in Boston. He was the instructor for a new IREM course on assisted housing. I liked him immediately and we began a friendship that lasted for nearly 50 years. I found a picture of us taken in 1981 and sent to him years ago. “Gene, you are the reason I became a CPM” was my inscription on it. I will miss him very much.

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Gene always enjoyed talking with everyone .He always asked me how things were in Smithville ,Texas because he owned a small property there. Knowing that I was born and raise about 25 miles east of Smithville this created great conversations. I will miss his smiling face at the national meeting. May God bless the family through this difficult time Our prayers are with all of you.

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I first met Gene in 1996 when assigned to a Task Force. Gene was so welcoming and kind to me. He also had a very dry sense of humor and told me when we finished the task force - "to not screw this up!" I will miss his sparkling, mischievous eyes when speaking softly. To my friend - go gently into the night and we will meet again. Happy Trails.

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Gene has been so wonderful to me over the years. His executive status never got in the way of his warm and friendly nature to me. My involvement with the IREM San Francisco chapter has always been fully supported by the Burger family and I will miss seeing Gene's smiling face every year at the annual summit. My heart is sad....

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Shirley, Steve and Lori (and family) very sorry for your loss. Seeing "Team Burger" at the IREM conferences was the always an expected part of getting together. Gene will be missed.

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