Stories of Legacy: A Tribute to Mr. Cornell Burcher

As AAD launched the Founder’s Hope Society, an important inaugural member of that society was Mr. Cornell Burcher. Mr. Burcher had been involved with An Achievable Dream for several years, attending events like Sponsors Day, staying invested and in touch with updates on the program. When creating his estate plan, he made the mission and work of An Achievable Dream part of his lasting legacy.

I believe Cornell, over the course of his lifetime, developed an acute realization of how important it was to understand and address cycles of socioeconomic disparity and racial inequity

Christopher Johnson, Trust and Fiduciary Advisor

Mr. Burcher passed away on April 8, 2021 at the age of 91, and his legacy is one that we honor as we launch the Founder’s Hope Society, and tell a small piece of his story of generational impact.

Mr. Burcher was born, raised, and spent the majority of his life in Poquoson, Virginia. He was a graduate of the University of Virginia in 1957 where he majored in Psychology. Mr. Burcher spent two years in the Army during the Korean War. He then began a 32-year career at NASA’s Langley Research Center in various administrative roles. He was very civic-minded, having served 12 years on the Poquoson Planning Commission, 10 of those as Commissioner; followed by two terms as Mayor of Poquoson, 1988-1996. He also served as Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Poquoson branch of Central Fidelity Bank, which his father founded. Once retired Mr. Burcher thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at Peninsula Reads and both Riverside and Hampton Sentara Hospitals.

In addition to An Achievable Dream, a few of his many philanthropic interests included WHRO, as well as University of Virginia and Christopher Newport University where he established scholarship funds stemming from his appreciation of and value for education.

Dan Vicroy shares, “He was passionate about health, current affairs, modern architecture, travel, classical music and opera, His hobbies were running, travel and working in the yard. He was a big fan of hard work. He cared deeply about helping those who were working hard and needed a hand.”

Christopher Johnson, who worked with Mr. Burcher for 5 years in the capacity of financial advisor, shares, “I believe Cornell, over the course of his lifetime, developed an acute realization of how important it was to understand and address cycles of socioeconomic disparity and racial inequity. He also came to realize that these disparities created tangible and lasting burdens for a significant number of people in the Hampton Roads community. Cornell was an extremely deliberate and thoughtful person about pretty much everything he did.

So when, later in life, he began to zero in on the legacy he wanted to leave behind, he wanted that legacy to have tangible and lasting benefits for those same members of this community. He did a lot of due diligence around crafting his estate plan to make sure the plan would be able to bring about those benefits. He was fascinated with what AAD has built and does for children in our community who face certain risk factors, and that was essentially the capstone of his legacy planning: to build Achievable Dream into his plan. He evolved significantly with respect to his worldview and wanted that evolution to be made permanent for the benefit of this community.”

Neil Brodsky, Mr. Burcher’s estate planning attorney, found it extremely rewarding to work with someone like Mr. Burcher. He shares that having known Mr. Burcher for more than 10 years, he could see his great interest in philanthropy, helping young people, and supporting education. He spent much time and effort over the years in support of these causes, and aligned his estate plan with those values.

Dr. Lee Vreeland, President and CEO of AAD, shares that Mr. Burcher’s legacy gift will have a far-reaching impact on the program. “Through legacy gifts, we are creating hope for generations to come by sustaining AAD’s programs into the future. Mr. Burcher’s gift will have an immense impact not only today, but tomorrow, and for years to come as his personal values of supporting education and giving back to underserved communities come to fruition through the work of AAD. We are so grateful for the example set by Mr. Burcher, and we will continue to honor and celebrate his legacy.”

Mr. Burcher will be remembered as a mentor, colleague, godfather, and loyal friend. At An Achievable Dream, Mr. Burcher will be remembered and honored as a posthumous member of the Founder’s Hope Circle, a believer in dreams, and part of the legacy of Dreamers for generations to come.