Michael Burriss, a security officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), died of natural causes June 14 while on duty at the Pharmacy Learning Center at the UM School of Pharmacy.
"We are all truly saddened by the recent passing of Security Officer Michael Burriss," said Colonel Milland Reed of the University Police Department. "Mike has been a valued member of our department for the past 17 years. He was a devoted employee and a fantastic co-worker. The entire department had great admiration and respect for him. He will be missed by everyone. On behalf of Chief Antonio Williams and the Department of Public Safety I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to his family in their time of mourning. We will support his family in any way that we can."
"I've known Mike since my days in the Allied Health Building where he was a guard," said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, professor and dean of the School of Pharmacy. "He was a comfort to see each morning, with his constantly smiling face and pleasant demeanor. It is hard to believe he isn't with us anymore. The thoughts and prayers of the entire School of Pharmacy community are with Mike's family, friends, and colleagues."
School of Pharmacy systems administrator Thomas Dougherty, who works in the Pharmacy Learning Center, described Burriss as "always smiling, greeted everyone, and was very dependable."
Colleague Ardeen Leake, also a UMB security officer, said Burriss "was my best friend. We were going to the same church. He loved the Lord, his wife, and his kids. He also loved his car, a GMC Savoy, which he called the Black Beauty."
Vanessa Foreman, administrator at the Institute for Genome Science, says, "I am so sad to hear about Mike. He was one of the first friendly colleagues I met when I joined UMB in 1997. Mike was assigned to the Bressler Building at the time. He was sure to cheer you up with his greetings and smiles. He will certainly be missed. May God bless his family."
Burriss was born in 1966. He began employment with the UMB Department of Public Safety on July 23, 1995. Burris was assigned to the Allied Health Building for many years before being assigned as a relief officer covering the Pharmacy Learning Center daily in the afternoon and closing out the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center in the evening. He was dedicated to the University and volunteered regularly for additional shifts.
Burriss is survived by his wife, Vivienne Burris, four children, and two grandchildren.
Burriss was known as "Big Mike" to his work family. He had a very deep and booming voice but was a gentle giant whose smile would light up a room, according to his colleagues. Two of his favorite sayings were "I gotcha, Darling" and "for sure."
Burriss played recreational basketball for many years on campus and had the game of a lifetime when the UMB Police faced UMB Facilities, grabbing rebounds, scoring, and dribbling the ball the length of the court. He was a Washington Redskins fan living in the Baltimore area and supported the Washington Nationals as well.
Burriss recently starting attending New Psalmist Baptist Church.
A wake is planned for Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. and a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. at Vaughn Greene Funeral Home, 4905 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212.