The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 3, 2013

William G. Burley


The Tribune-Democrat

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP — BURLEY – William G. “Bill,” 81, Richland Township, died peacefully in his sleep Dec. 31, 2012, while living with his family. Born Aug. 26, 1931, in New York, N.Y. Survived by his loving son, John S., married to the former Veronica L. Wilson, Windber; grandchildren, Jonathon Burley, Johnstown; and Victor, Luther and Jasmine Flores, all of Windber; sister, Rose Nigro; and several nieces and nephews. A true pioneer, Bill enjoyed a lengthy career that has spanned more than 50 years in the ice rink industry. He began ice skating as a youngster at local rinks in New York City. During his early years, he skated for the Ice Capades and numerous skating shows. Always an avid skater and warm personality, Bill’s experience led him to a position as a rink manager at a New York City ice rink. As time moved on, he searched for a small town to move his young family and enter into business. He moved his family to Johnstown in the 1970s where he opened Ideal Park, a recreational park which included a swimming pool and skating rink. After years of success, the turbulent nature of U.S. economy in the late ’70s and early ’80s forced him to close Ideal Park and liquidate the ice rink equipment. In an ironic twist, this was the starting point for what became Burley’s Rink Supply. Bill sold the rink equipment literally overnight after marketing it to a few outlets. Ever the entrepreneur, Bill noticed that a real opportunity existed to sell ice rink equipment. Bill and his son, John, began small by selling used equipment. After a few years of success, they began to market new equipment to prospective rink builders. Before long, Bill had built Burley’s Rink Supply into a powerhouse in the ice rink industry. At its peak, Burley’s Rink Supply employed nearly 150 people and achieved sales broaching $10 million annually. In 1997, Bill built his showcase rink in Johnstown, known as Planet Ice. The 100,000-square-foot facility showcased all of Burley’s Rink Supply’s cutting edge technology in the rink portion of the facility. Additional parts of the complex were used for the manufacturing of all of Burley’s Rink Supply products. Bill is well regarded by some of the most famous names in hockey. “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe and Bill had a strong friendship for years. Mr. Howe even starred in a promotional VHS cassette for Burley’s Rink Supply. Additionally, Mr. Burley had long-dated friendships with 1960 Gold Medalist Billy Christian, Miracle on Ice Coach Herb Brooks, along with many other prominent ice skating and hockey leaders. Among other accomplishments, Bill’s company had the honor of providing a rink for the sitting U.S. president in the early 1990s. Until death, Bill was a regular at the corporate offices of Everything Ice, where his legacy lives on with one of the world’s leading installers of portable and permanent ice rinks. His countless stories, witty demeanor and love for all things skating endeared him to many, not the least of which was his colleagues, whom he endeared as family. Despite all of his accomplishments, he took a special pride in his relationships with others and goodwill towards his fellow man. He will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 2 p.m. until time of service at 4 p.m. Saturday at Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Richland, the Rev. Barron K. Deffenbaugh, officiating. Private inurnment will be held at the convenience of the family. Online condolences may be posted to www.wharrisfuneralhome.com.


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