Ernie died of cancer Sept. 16, 2010, at home.
Born in New Haven, Conn., the son of Elsie and the late Ernest S. Burch ’37, Ernie was 1937’s class son. He attended Harrisburg Academy and graduated from The Hill School. At Princeton, he majored in sociology, wrote his thesis on Labrador Eskimos, and was active in the French, German, and Spanish clubs. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of Chicago, and became a expert on the Inuit people of northwest Alaska.
Ernie taught at the University of Manitoba from 1966 to 1974 and then moved to Pennsylvania, where he continued his research and published numerous books and articles. As a historical ethnographer, he wrote about the lives of Alaskan natives in the early 19th century based on evidence from tribal elders that would have been lost but for his work to preserve it. He was a research associate at the Arctic Studies Center of the Smithsonian Institution and served on the board of Harrisburg Academy for many years.
Ernie is survived by Deanne, his beloved wife of 47 years; his children, Karen, Sarah, and David; his mother, Elsie; brother John; and six grandchildren, Zed, Teague, Naomi, Alex, Regan, and Ari. The class extends sincere sympathy to them.