Slain man was a St. Aug's booster

Burroughs helped raise money and shape his alma mater's status.

Staff WriterJuly 20, 2009 

— Kim Hayes is trying to make sense of her mentor's death and the criminal charge against his own son.

A week ago Sunday, Bill Burroughs, 64, was found by his wife face down in a pool of blood in his north Durham home. On Saturday, Durham police arrested his 35-year-old son, Cheo Burroughs of Buffalo, N.Y., and charged him with murder in the death of his father.

"I'm still in shock that he's gone, and then to hear that, I think we're all still trying to process and deal with it," said Kim Hayes, president of the St. Augustine's College National Alumni Association. "I don't know the type of relationship that they had, but I know that the relationship that he had with alums was always caring, loving and concerned."

Burroughs, a 1969 graduate and former St. Aug's basketball player, served as alumni association president in the early part of this decade and led the group to establish tax-exempt, nonprofit status for the historically black school in Raleigh. He also demanded an investigation after the college fell short of its accrediting agency's standard for financial resources in 2003.

"Under Bill Burroughs, the National Alumni Association made a tremendous leap," said Lionel Randolph, alumni treasurer. "This is such a tragedy. It's hard to talk about it."

Pattye Brown, president of the alumni association's Durham chapter, said Burroughs visited her consignment shop in December to tell her he'd have to skip the chapter's 50th anniversary celebration in order to visit his son in upstate New York.

"He said that his son needed him," Brown said. "He was concerned enough that he was going to miss our anniversary to go up to talk to him. ... He just said that his son needed him, and that spoke volumes because even though his son was an adult, he was still there for him and was willing to do whatever he thought was necessary to do."

The Burroughs family lived near Buffalo for many years, according to Durham City Councilor Cora Cole-McFadden, who attended high school with Bill Burroughs. Burroughs and his wife returned to North Carolina in 2000, and he retired in 2003 after three years as a teacher and counselor at Riverside High School.

"Yesterday was a very difficult day for me, and today is even more difficult knowing what that family must be going through," Cole-McFadden said Sunday.

Burroughs formerly served as the alumni representative on the St. Aug's Board of Trustees. Until his death, he was president of the Falcon Foundation, an athletic booster organization.

"He loved St. Aug's. He did everything in his God-given power to improve this institution," said Hayes. "He made sure that we loved each other, and he made sure that we did what we had to do ... to make sure that alumni were giving back to the place that we call home."

Deborah Burroughs arrived home from church on July 12 to find her husband's body, according to a recording of a 911 call. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

"My phone rang that night up until one or two o'clock in the morning," Hayes said. "It was just a devastating loss for the association as well as for the college."

The couple lived near Treyburn Country Club in an area known for lavish homes and little crime. The neighborhood around the Burroughs home was quiet Sunday afternoon. Neighbors described the couple as friendly and said they often held family gatherings at their home.

Durham police did not release any additional details on Sunday about the homicide. Cheo Burroughs is being held without bail at Durham County jail and will face a judge at 9 a.m. today.

Staff writer Sadia Latifi contributed to this report.

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

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