Ralph Dunn Burgess Jr.

March 22, 1932 ~ February 11, 2024 (age 91) 91 Years Old

Ralph Burgess Jr. Obituary

Ralph Dunn Burgess, Jr. passed away peacefully on February 11, 2024, surrounded by loving family members. Ralph was a fiercely independent thinker who lived life to the fullest.  In his nine decades, he built a successful business, passionately pursued many hobbies and inspired all who loved him by always doing things “his way.”

Forever known as “Sonny” to his family and close friends, Ralph was born on March 22, 1932, in Minneapolis, MN, the second of seven children.  After graduating from Patrick Henry High School, Ralph worked alongside his Pop, Ralph Sr., at Northern Pump, an ordinance manufacturer for the U.S. Navy.  Drafted into the Army at age 21, Ralph served in the Korean War, where he achieved the rank of First Sergeant in only nine months while leading a combat artillery unit.  After returning home, Ralph earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, the first of his family to graduate college. His abilities were soon recognized by Buhler Incorporated, a Swiss-based manufacturer of food processing equipment, who brought Ralph to Uzwil, Switzerland to hone his talent and learn the trade. Within a few years, Ralph applied his mastery of engineering to a new business venture that he founded, Food Engineering Corporation.  A visionary designer, Ralph enjoyed creating solutions for his customers’ most challenging needs. Over three decades, he built FEC into a successful company, with A-list clients in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia, and a large manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Minnesota with more than 250 employees. 

Throughout his life, Ralph approached his many hobbies with the same gusto. He was a passionate and talented lifelong photographer, who captured many beautiful landscapes, architectural images and priceless family photos. Fitness was important to him, and he was an accomplished skier, avid runner and weightlifter.  His grandchildren remember trying to keep up with Grandpa Sonny on hikes along the trails surrounding Ralph’s vacation home in Tofte, an area that he especially loved.  In addition to the North Shore outings, we’ll also remember many wonderful family gatherings in Arizona, and Sonny’s beautiful singing voice, especially when we hear his favorite song, “My Way.” 

Ralph is preceded in death by his father, Ralph Dunn Burgess, Sr., mother Louise Roland Burgess, sisters Patricia Socher, and Mary Lyman, and brother Richard Burgess. He is survived by his loving wife, Linda Hamm Burgess; daughters Cheryl (David) Burgess-Burghardt, Suzanne (Brent Hall) Jackson; grandchildren Peter (Nicole,) Emma and Madeline Burghardt, Sam Jackson and Naomi (Cody) Heineman; great-grandchildren Teddy and Carolyn Burghardt; sisters Sandra (Bud) Pebley and Judy Johnson; brother Dennis (Annebeth) Burgess, and many nieces, nephews and close friends who held a special place in Ralph’s heart.

A service and celebration of life will be held at 3:00pm, Tuesday, February 27 at Wayzata Community Church, 125 East Wayzata Blvd, Wayzata, MN 55391. Memorials can be made to the American Lung Association and Disabled American Veterans.

Though he is no longer with us in person, Ralph will forever remain in our hearts, inspiring us with his love and boundless energy. May he rest in eternal peace.






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Celebration of Life
February 27, 2024

3:00 PM
Wayzata Community Church
125 East Wayzata Blvd
Wayzata, MN 55391


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