Sheila Burgh

Obituary
  • "Our heartfelt condolences to you, Mr. Burgh, and your..."
  • "To Rodney and all the family, as long ago as it was you..."
  • "Colleen, so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Mom's smile..."
    - Patti Koontz Maggiora
  • "I was saddened to read of your mother's passing in the ADN..."
    - Tam Agosti-Gisler
  • "I finally found Shiela on this obit -- wonderful lady. She..."
    - Kathy Eachon

Long-time Alaskan Sheila Burgh, 89, died peacefully in her sleep at her Anchorage home surrounded by family on July 24, 2009. A memorial Mass for Sheila will be at Holy Family Cathedral, 800 W. Fifth Ave., at 2 p.m. Tuesday, preceded by a rosary prayed by the Legion of Mary at 1:30 p.m. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in Anchorage. Sheila was born in County Cork, Ireland, on Dec. 6, 1919, the youngest of nine children. Following her education in Ireland, she moved to England for nurses training, graduating in London from St. Nicholas School of Nursing in 1942. Prior to immigrating to the United States in 1947 on the Queen Elizabeth I, she served as a nurse during World War II, surviving the Blitz of London, sometimes sleeping in an underground dirt-lined bomb shelter. Sheila continued nursing at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and moved westward to Arizona and on to Swedish Hospital in Seattle. In 1950, her adventurous spirit led her to vacation in Alaska, where she decided to work briefly in Ketchikan. There she met Rodney Burgh, whom she married in 1952. They had four children prior to moving to Anchorage in 1960. Sheila enjoyed her years as a full-time mother and as a volunteer with Anchorage Civic Ballet, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and parent-teacher organizations. She was also a member and volunteer with many other civic organizations in Anchorage, including the Anchorage Woman's Club, Alaskan Prospectors Society, Anchorage Concert Association, Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 4 and the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she loved working at the downtown Visitors Log Cabin. Her family wrote: "Sheila's Catholic faith and love for Christ was of utmost importance throughout her life and she was a long-standing member of Holy Family Cathedral, Catholic Daughters of America and Legion of Mary. She had a great love of the natural world and all creatures great and small, and supported numerous local and national environmental and animal welfare organizations. "Her love of Alaska and its people took her to villages and far-flung reaches of the state, from Ketchikan to Barrow. Her life-long love of travel and adventure took her to countries all over the world, including many trips back home to her beloved Ireland to visit family and friends. Her international travels took her from the Amazon River to Antarctica, Africa to Australia, to India, the former U.S.S.R., Mongolia, Southeast Asia, China, Europe and many other wonderful places. "Mom made friends wherever she lived and traveled throughout her life and was loved by all for her sense of fun and good Irish humor and her ready smile and laugh. She never passed up an opportunity to try something new, meet new people and engage in lively conversation. She relished keeping up with local news and politics and never shied from a good debate. She lived every day to its fullest and encouraged everyone around her to do the same. She was an inspiration to us all. Her happy face will be missed forever, and we'll always remember her warm heart and generous love." Sheila is survived by her husband of 57 years, Rodney Burgh; her children and their spouses, Don Burgh and Deb Broocks of Yamhill, Ore., Patti and Steve Eachon of Hayden Lake, Idaho, Colleen Burgh and Jim Stratton of Anchorage, and Bill Burgh of Anchorage; grandsons, Andrew, Adam, Christopher, Eric, Ben, Brandan, Austen and Alex; her cat, Sophie; and many relatives in Ireland. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Catholic Social Services, the Archdiocese of Anchorage, or an environmental advocacy or animal welfare group of the donor's choice.

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Published in Anchorage Daily News from July 26 to July 27, 2009