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Alumni Profile

Alumnus walks the walk


Over the last 50 years, Larry Burgheimer has traversed 18 European countries, hiked often in the Sierra Mountains, walked nearly every street in San Francisco and led 18 annual urban group hikes in the city.

Hit the road, hoof it, meander, perambulate, saunter, slog, traipse or tread: Whichever term you choose to describe travel by foot, Larry Burgheimer likely has it in his repertoire. Burgheimer, BS IE ’61, in short, is a walker. 

It started with a trip to Europe in 1961–62. “I walked a thousand miles during my five-month trip and went to 18 countries, mostly by rail and hitchhiking,” Burgheimer says. 

Once back in the states, he didn’t slow down for long. In 1965, he left his job as an industrial engineer at Kodak Eastman in Rochester, N.Y. “I was single and felt I was getting stuck in Rochester, so I resigned, packed my possessions in the trunk of my car and drove to San Francisco,” he says. “It was the best move of my life.”

The relocation set off a world of motion for Burgheimer. From 1967–72, he walked every street in San Francisco, save for the Hunters Point Naval Shipyards, which were off limits. Added up, that’s more than an 850-mile excursion. 

“San Francisco is a unique city with a wide variety of neighborhoods and many ethnic groups,” Burgheimer says. “Walking five miles once a week for five years was good exercise. I got to know all of the city, viewed the architecture, did lots of driving to start each walk in a different place and occasionally talked to local residents.”

He admits it wasn’t always a cakewalk. “I was mugged once and stalked several times,” Burgheimer says. “At every moment, I was always planning an escape route to safety so I could run if necessary.”

Now he seems to have had enough of the streets. “Most of my recent walking is on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach,” he says. “The cool, salty breeze is very invigorating for brisk walking, and the sand is easier on my knees. Also, I recently found a route where I can go 11 miles within the city without crossing a street.” 

When he wasn’t walking, Burgheimer was a senior industrial engineer/system development supervisor for Schlage Lock Co. and a lead systems engineer for Blue Cross of California.  — Sarah Garber