Haley Barrett Burch, 69, of Greensboro, died on December 30, 2021 at Duke University Medical Center, Durham. Haley was born in Person County, North Carolina on January 23, 1952 to the late Clingman Haley Burch and the late Celia Barrett Burch.
He married Donna Lynne Harrison on December 30, 2003. She survives him. Haley was a devoted and loving husband, brother, uncle, friend, and grandpa. He is survived by his brother, Arthur Keith Burch, his wife’s children and spouses, Erin Michele Zeh Crissman (Kyle) and Darrel Thomas Zeh (Kathryn) along with their children, Ayden, Conor, Ethan, and Harrison, Rhiannon, and Lorelai, and nieces and nephews, Julie, Jennifer, Daniel, Harrison and Erika.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Rebecca Faye Burch Ezzell, and her husband, William F. Ezzell.
Haley was a hard-working creator and conservationist. His life of good labor began in the body shop of his father's Dodge dealership in 1971, months after graduating from Williams High School. At the age of 22 he moved on to the construction industry in Burlington with Ralph Harris Builders. In his 30s he created Burch Builders and began building custom homes in northern Guilford County, some of which won awards with the Parade of Homes. In his 50s, ready for a new challenge, he patented the “Easy Coper” tool and started a company to sell the tool to craftsmen throughout the country.
In his 60s, Haley found his next calling as a conservationist and trail-worker. He volunteered thousands of hours laboring, alongside new friends, with the Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) and Friends of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail (FMST). He discovered this calling by helping build trails at PLC’s Knight Brown Nature Preserve near his weekend haven at Belews Creek Lake. After finishing this project, he purchased his own set of trail tools and started volunteering regularly for FMST and became a master volunteer at project sites in Guilford and Alamance Counties, along with work on sections at Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain State Parks and along the Eno River in Durham and Orange counties. His skills as a carpenter were vital to the design, construction, repair, and improvement of bridges and trails, and his unwavering dedication lasted through the completion of every project. He loved the hard work and loved making nature more accessible to others. His drive was always to leave things better than as he found them.
Haley’s life was further fulfilled by the simple pleasures of good company, serving a delicious meal, listening to music, and a nice walk in the woods.
Haley was diagnosed with stage-3 esophageal cancer in July 2021 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation followed by an esophagectomy at the end of October. An unexpected complication during his recovery led to his sudden death.
There will be a celebration of life in early Summer. Instead of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Friends of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail, https://mountainstoseatrail.org/the-friends/ and Piedmont Land Conservancy, www.piedmontland.org.
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