We don’t often write about our own folks in our blog, but in this case, we’ll make an exception. This spring, we lost a pillar of our company with the passing of Dean Carter Burtch.
Dean was a boy when his father was involved in buying the company from the Pepper family in 1941. By then, the Pepper family was not able to sustain the business due to the early death of Howard Pepper, son of company founder James Welsh. The company changed hands from one family to another, and remains in the Burtch family today.
While that explains how Dean ended up at Pepper, it doesn’t explain what Dean has done for us here at Pepper, and what he has meant to the greater music community. Dean was past owner, Chairman, and President of the company. He also served as President of the Music Publishers Association of the United States, and was recently honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award. According to Robert Murphy, Vice President of Information Systems, “Dean had a great appreciation for music. His driving force was to promote music education and provide teachers with the tools to foster future prodigies.”
His influence is evident throughout the company today. Early on in my music teaching career I was impressed by the warm, family feel to the company, and as an educator, was touched how often people at Pepper talked about making things easier for teachers. Service is a word casually tossed about by many companies, but honestly, at Pepper it is not just marketing jargon, it’s a way of life. Dean’s kindness, gentle wit, his support of the arts, and the trust he placed in his staff created a marvelous company culture where we help customers, and each other, every day.
Dean, an avid sailor, “was an easy leader to follow, whether in the board room or the wheel house. If you were able, he made sure you learned how to drive the boat,” commented Lee Paynter, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
Thank you, Dean, for all you have done for us. Your influence will be felt in the company and throughout the music community for many generations to come.
Watch a short interview with Dean: Dean Burtch NAMM Oral History Video