BACK IN the '70s, William G. Burwell thought he'd like to do something for his North-Central Philadelphia community. He figured he knew enough about the people and the problems to be a force for them on City Council.
"He thought he could make a difference," said his brother, Walton Burwell.
But it wasn't to be. Bill lost in the May 1971 primary for the 5th Councilmanic District.
But Bill Burwell went on to serve people through the years in various capacities - including finding good housing as a busy real-estate broker.
Bill Burwell, who ran his own real-estate office for a dozen years and continued to do real estate from his home after he closed his office and never really retired, died of heart failure April 8. He was 73 and lived in the Tioga/Nicetown neighborhood.
He was born in Philadelphia to William and Ethel Burwell, and graduated from Germantown High School in 1955.
He was an outstanding athlete in high school, playing football, baseball and participating in track and field.
Bill continued to play football when he joined the Air Force. He played for the Rockets, an Air Force team, while stationed at the Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany, where he was an air-traffic controller.
He was discharged in 1961, and took classes at Temple University and technical schools.
He went to work for Goodwill Industries, where he trained people on public assistance, mostly women, as cashiers for A&P and Acme supermarkets. The purpose was to give them meaningful jobs and lift them out of welfare.
Bill later joined the United Fund where he acted as an inspector, examining buildings that the fund's agencies operated to find out what improvements and repairs they might need. When the work was done, he went back to make sure it was done right.
He also worked as an insurance agent for Equitable Life Insurance Co.
Bill then decided to go into the real-estate business and joined the Ambrose H. Gaddie agency, with which he was associated for more than 20 years and where earned his broker's license.
After Gaddie died, Bill started his own agency on Hunting Park Avenue. He operated it until several years ago when he closed it and worked out of his home.
"He was very helpful to his clients," his brother said, "helping them find the right homes and guiding them through the processes to make the purchases."
As an active Democrat, Bill not only ran for office himself but supported and helped other local candidates.
Bill was an active member of Col. Charles Young VFW Post 682. He was a devoted jazz fan who was particularly fond of trumpeter Miles Davis. He had an extensive record collection and often saw shows at local clubs.
He was also an enthusiastic Phillies and 76ers fan, and attended many games.
His brother is his only immediate survivor.