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The House That Ham Built

Morris Burger

Burgers establish a legacy at Mizzou for Moniteau County, Mo.
Photo courtesy of Schlomer Photography

Morris Burger is no "ham." In fact, Burger, BS Ag '57, will tell you he's shy by nature. But when it comes to ham, no one knows more and no one does it better. Burgers' Smokehouse, or "the Ham House," makes country hams cured the old fashioned way.

As most family businesses, Burgers' Smokehouse started small. The company was founded in 1927 in California, Mo., when Morris' dad, E.M. Burger, a Moniteau County farmer, sold his first ham. Today, the company has built a nationally recognized brand without ever leaving the Ozarks.

Morris and his wife, Dolores, have deep roots in Moniteau County and are proud of their family, the family—run company, their community and their state. They also love the University of Missouri, where Morris was the first in his family to attend college.

Recently, the Burgers found a way to unite their ties to Moniteau County with their attachments to MU through the University of Missouri Flagship Scholars program. The Flagship Scholars program aims to provide full—ride, four—year college scholarships in every Missouri county and gives preference to first—generation students.

"The reason the Flagship Scholars program appealed to us is that both of our families have been in this county for a long time, and both of us were the first of our families to graduate from college," Morris says.

Mizzou family ties

Morris and Dolores first met in junior high school. Morris claims he's had his eyes on Dolores since the 8th grade, but it was only after Morris and Dolores both graduated from college and Morris returned from military service in Europe in 1960 that they married. They now have three children — Steven, BS BA '84; Philip, BS BA '86; and Sara Burger Rohrback, BS Ed '89—and eight grandsons

Over the years, the Burgers have supported the university in a variety of ways. Through service on committees and development councils for the medical center and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Morris has been a volunteer leader for the university since the early 1980s. In 2003, he received his college's Alumnus of the Year Award and the National Agriculture Alumni Development Association Volunteer Service Award.

The Burgers and their children are sustaining members of the Jefferson Club. Morris just completed his second term on the Jefferson Club Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Mizzou Flagship Council Board of Directors. He has also been honored for his support of MU Extension and 4-H, and as president of the Capital Region Medical Center Foundation (a University of Missouri Health Care affiliate).Innovative plan to start innovative scholarship

The Burgers are funding the scholarships creatively, through a bequest and a charitable gift annuity. "We wanted to do something for MU," Dolores says, "but we liked that the gift annuity guarantees income for both our lifetimes."

The gift annuity will provide the Burgers with annual payments set at a favorable rate. A portion is tax-free. At the end of their lifetimes, the remainder will go into an endowment fund to support scholarships in perpetuity for MU students from Moniteau County.

"Dolores and I are excited to be part of a program that will eventually provide a full-ride, four-year scholarship to a student in each of Missouri's 114 counties," says Morris. "I want Missouri to be the best land-grant university in America and that's why I like this plan. But for the program to work, it's going to take a commitment from individuals in every county."

To date, University of Missouri Flagship Scholarships are established in Audrain, Caldwell, Clark, Franklin, Marion and Moniteau counties. For more information contact The Office of Gift Planning and Endowments at 1-800-970-9977 or 573-882-0272 or giftplanning@missouri.edu.

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