Henry Burtschi, 85, died peacefully on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in the Oakdale home he and his wife Lena built, surrounded by his wife and family.
He was born in Switzerland. He was always very active in sports and enjoyed wrestling, ice hockey, gymnastics, and was an accomplished skier.
Mr. Burtschi was a member of the local militia and Swiss Army during World War II.
He received a business degree and worked at an electric motor factory, apprenticed at a law firm and worked on ranches where he learned to speak French.
In 1950, he and his wife immigrated to the United States. He worked on the Cook Cattle Ranch and later worked for Lutz’s in Oakdale and took over a small dairy on Alvarado Road in 1953. In 1954, he started the Burtschi-Bradley partnership. By 1962, he had bought out his partner and in 1980, renamed the company Burtschi Transport.
He served as a director of the Oakdale Irrigation District from 1995-2001. Until his death he was a member and director of the Oakdale Saddle Club. He and his wife were honored as the 2010 Oakdale Rodeo Grand Marshals. He was also a member of the Oakdale Dinner Club and San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club. He was a member of the Oakdale Community Christian Reformed Church for over 50 years.
“This country has been good to us and my family and I doubt that anywhere else in the world we could have made a better living,” Mr. Burtschi said of the U.S.A. “With hard work, honesty and common sense everything is possible and I hope it will stay like that for our grand and great-grand children.”
He is survived by his wife Lena; sons, Fred, Rudi, and Hans, and their spouses; daughter, Susi and her spouse; sister Alice; 10 grandchildren and their spouses; four great-grandchildren; and two step-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son, Dani; and brother, Albert.
A celebration of life will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20 at Oakdale Community Christian Reformed Church, 131 West F St., Oakdale. A dinner will follow at the Oakdale Saddle Club located on the rodeo grounds.
Remembrances may be made in his memory to San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club Memorial Fund; or, to the Oakdale Community Christian Reformed Church; or, to Hospice.