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All-Time Gonzaga Scoring Leader And WCC Hall of Honor Inductee Frank Burgess Passes Away

March 29, 2010

TACOMA, Wash. - U.S. District Judge and former Gonzaga University basketball standout Franklin (Frank) D. Burgess of Tacoma died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 75.

"Frank was a great Zag," Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. "He was one of our greatest fans and was a true friend. He had the opportunity to attend some games this year and he took great pride in Gonzaga. He will be missed."

"It's such a tremendous loss," said Robert Lasnik, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Western Washington.

Burgess was diagnosed with cancer last year and had reduced his workload recently, although he continued to put in hours at the federal courthouse at Union Station and worked until a few weeks ago, when he was hospitalized, Lasnik said Friday night.

He was moved from St. Joseph's Hospital to a hospice care center Friday and died surrounded by his family, Lasnik said.

Burgess took the oath of office as a U.S. district judge in 1994, becoming the second black man appointed to the federal bench in Western Washington.

The high-scoring Burgess, who led the NCAA Division I basketball ranks in scoring in 1961 at 32.4 ppg, was one of eight former players and coaches inducted into the inaugural West Coast Conference Hall of Honor Class a year ago at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas.

The native of Eudora, Ark., came to Gonzaga right out of the Air Force in 1958. The 6-1 sharpshooter led the Bulldogs in scoring for three seasons and won the national collegiate scoring crown for the 1960-61 season with 842 points in 26 games and a 32.4 scoring average. Burgess scored what is today still a school-best 2,196 points in his three years at Gonzaga (he spent a pre-military year at Arkansas AM&N) and scored more than 40 points in a game seven times including a school-record 52 against California-Davis his senior year.

He was a Helms Foundation All-American selection in his junior and senior year and was an All-American choice by the major wire services in his senior year. After two seasons with Hawaii in the professional American Basketball League, he returned to Gonzaga to attend law school and graduated near the top of his class. He was inducted into the Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. Gonzaga University retired his No. 44 jersey Feb. 19, 2005, and today it hangs in the McCarthey Athletic Center rafters.

Burgess graduated from Gonzaga University Law School. He worked for the City of Tacoma as a prosecutor and later entered into a private law practice partnership. In 1981, the federal district judges for the Western District of Washington appointed Frank Burgess as a magistrate judge, a position he held for twelve years until 1994 when he was appointed a full federal judge by President Clinton upon his nomination by Senator Patty Murray. A federal judgeship is a lifetime appointment. Judge Burgess is one of seventeen federal district judges serving in the state of Washington.Services are pending.

The News Tribune of Tacoma contributed to this report