Sharon L. Burghard (1946 - 2009)

Obituary
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After a courageous fight for more than 12 years, the loving, brilliant, charming and caring Sharon L. Burghard of Aloha, Ore., lost her battle with cancer on Jan. 4, 2009. She was born on Nov. 15, 1946, to Vernon (deceased) and Lillian White in Lewiston, Idaho, and grew up in Spirit Lake, Idaho, with her mom; stepfather, John Laws (deceased); and brother, Vernon (Lenny) White, who lives with his wife, Sharon, in Arkansas.

When she was 15, the family moved to Thompson Falls, where she met her husband-to-be, Ron Burghard, and where her mother still lives. They have two children, John and Melody, and have been blessed with four wonderful granddaughters: Kaytee and Charlette from John and Orissa Burghard of Vernonia, Ore., and Lily and Iris from Brian and Melody Emerick of Portland, Ore.

Sharon obtained degrees in English from Montana State University (bachelor's) and Idaho State University (master's and doctorate). She taught English at J.B. Thomas Jr. High in Hillsboro, Ore., becoming a U.S. West Oregon Outstanding Teaching Finalist 1989. In recent years she focused on writing, until the cancer took its toll. She has lived throughout the West with most of her last 31 years in Oregon.

A celebration of her life open to the public will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Glenn and Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St., Hillsboro, OR 97123.

Sharon's life in her words: I was born in November, on tax day, at the very beginning of the baby boom. I spent my summers in a logging camp while my friends stayed home and listened to Elvis. The rest of the time I lived in an Idaho lake resort town where I oogled rich doctors' sons and planned my getaway. I conceived a son in Albuquerque and delivered him in California. He doesn't hold that against me. I spent the last day of May in l97l at the Albuquerque Zoo and early the next morning gave birth to my daughter.

Marie Ross was my fifth grade teacher. She taught me to believe in myself - that knowledge is power, and then she empowered me. I teach because of her. I have sung "Heartbreak Hotel" to a thousand or more students and they'll probably remember that more that anything else I ever did in the classroom. Poems - I've written several hundred, and a few of them are good.

I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time when I was 21 and knew I had been looking for it all my life. I've skated on thin ice, and once I walked over a mile in 35 degrees below zero weather, but only because I didn't know it was that cold. One year with my family, I followed Chief Joseph's path as he sought and fought for freedom. Soon after our journey, we adopted three wild horses and named one for him.

People have praised me, loved me, respected me, hated me, resented me, teased me, used me, confused me - and I have let them. But there have been moments, a few precious moments, when I have known heaven. It is enough.
Sharon L. Burghard 1992
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 16, 2009
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