UC leader memorialized with new fountain for humans and pups alike
by Sandy Lippe
Published - 09/26/13 - 05:03 PM | 2520 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
University City’s Marcy Park mesa was blustery with wind on Sept. 21, a Saturday, when the Peter Burch Memorial Dog Fountain was dedicated to a University City leader who served as past president of the University City Community Association (UCCA) and as a member of the University City Planning Group.  The special fountain that serves able and disabled humans, as well as dogs, was chosen to honor a man who loved dogs, especially his own, a big golden retriever who might play the part of Clifford in the children’s stories we all love, if a live stage or movie production were planned. Barclay weighs around 100 pounds and is the most lovable dog one could own.

Peter Burch was an English transplant to University City  who loved his wife, children and little grandchildren, but he shared Colette’s view on dogs: “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”  

A rare form of cancer attacked Peter when he was 65 in 2011 and he passed away on Sept. 13, 2012. He will be remembered for his keen sense of humor and devotion to his family.   

Neighbors would see him in the early morning, walking in his cardinal and gold slippers to pick up his newspaper (he got his MBA at USC and joined the Trojan family for life). During his difficult battle with cancer and while dealing with some horrific side effects from medications, Peter still managed to travel to six different countries to visit his family and friends abroad during the last part of his life.

UCCA decided to take on a project that would improve Marcy Park, a pocket park in the west end of U.C., where dog lovers gather in the evenings around 5 o’clock to walk their dogs and let them socialize with other canines. 

Thirsty dogs had a challenge before the installation of this new fountain. The big dogs did a balancing act on their back legs to get water from the old fountain and the smaller ones were lifted awkwardly to the weak stream of water coming from an aged fountain.

For the past 11 months, a UCCA committee journeyed on a road with twists and turns, involving city approval and the challenge of finding funding until it all came to fruition in the park when UCCA’s president Barry Bernstein welcomed a crowd of some 20 canines and around 70 humans who listened to some speeches, ate some brownies and cookies shaped like dog bones, and drank lemonade.

Dog treats were also available. Artist Julie Ditzler had painted dog paw prints that went from the new fountain across the sidewalk to a plaque with donor names — both humans and canines — to be embedded in the ground. 

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner joined Peter’s widow, Hallie Burch, in cutting the bright yellow ribbon wrapped round the green fountain. Barclay couldn’t have been prouder to get the first drink.

Border collies, mixed mutts, goldens and pugs all behaved well. Some barked. One lifted his leg on a golden tablecloth covering a table with both American and British flags, flowers and doggie treats, and a beautiful bronze plaque. Peter Burch would have gotten a good laugh out of that pup’s irreverent performance!
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