Louise Burgess

Burgess, Louise Marie

ELLENDALE — Louise Marie Redden Burgess, 94, died peacefully in her sleep Sept. 29, 2012, three weeks after celebrating "the best party in my life!", her 94th birthday, at the happy home of her beloved caregivers, Cathy and Bill Tupper, Ellendale, Del.

Her remarkable journey through life began Sept. 10, 1918, where she was born in a little cottage her father had built in Stockton, Md., near Girdletree. She was the first-born child of Wallace and Essie Redden. She dearly loved her two younger brothers, Harold and Alan. Her family moved to Delaware, and she grew up in a farm house, formerly a Quaker church. She found Indian heads at a grave site in the back field. She loved the outdoors, going huckleberrying, reading and coloring. She attended the one-room Raughley Country School until high school. Her mom was her very strict teacher. She told Louise she gave her B's instead of the A's she deserved because she was afraid she'd be accused of favoritism. Ever stoic, Louise accepted this with no animosity. She graduated from Harrington School in 1936. She remembers picking strawberries for a penny a quart and buying a winter coat. She always felt lucky she had enough to eat and a coloring book and crayons at Christmas.

Her self-described characterization as, "Just a little farm girl from Delaware" hardly captured Louise's optimistic spirit. Diminutive in stature, she was tall in spirit, determination, and work-ethic. Humble, she wouldn't talk about herself unless you asked about her travels. She would joyfully and gratefully regale you with her seeing "The Seven Wonders of the World" first hand. As a shy, naive girl marveling at the pages of National Geographic Magazine, she never believed these amazing countries would open their doors to her. When she was traveling, she would wistfully muse, "I have to pinch myself to believe I am here!"

Though she had wanted to be a teacher like her mother, the Depression squashed her dream. When Aunt Sally offered to lend her money to go to business school, she jumped at the chance. Always reticent and scared to death, before the war, she moved to Philadelphia and achieved her Pierce Business School diploma. She later graduated with her Associates Degree in Business. Her goal was to make $100 a week. She worked at the Corn Exchange Bank until 1942 when she moved back to Harrington. She worked for Mr. J.C. Messner, Superintendent of Harrington Special Schools and every ensuing superintendent. Her career as Senior Secretary, which she loved, lasted 33 years, 7 months, and 4 days. She was also a Notary Public and had a private typing service.

Never one to sit around, in the summers before she was married, she worked as a waitress in Rehoboth Beach, as did Violet Goodwill, her close friend, who grew up on the farm next to hers. During the war, she was a switchboard operator at the Henlopen Hotel.

Back in Harrington one day, she decided to go to Burton's for a coke. A jaunty fellow, Winston Churchill Burgess, sauntered up to her. With a hopeful smile, he asked her, "Where have you been all my life?" Maybe it was the gleam in his eyes, but not long after that, on March 29, 1947, they eloped! She fondly remembers a journey they took to FLA with an unexpected overnight trip to Havana, Cuba. She joked it was so memorable, as Winnie never took another vacation! Kitty was born in 1948, and a year later, Judy arrived. She would say her daughters, Kitty, a retired RN, and Judy, a clinical psychologist and international professional coach, were her greatest accomplishments.

Louise also worked tirelessly along side of Winnie, publisher and editor of "The Harrington Journal'. She was always proud of his ability to work night and day to assure the paper got out. Mom was proud of his work ethic, his naughty sense of humor, and his love of dance. Though he passed 37 years ago after a terrible car accident, she joyfully reminisced about their life together.

At age 87, Louise rose to meet her greatest life challenge, sudden total deafness and vertigo. But even the necessity of a walker did not keep her down. Steadfastly independent, she was perennially busy. She used to lay in bed at night thinking of ways to rig her walker to more easily carry garden tools, plants, and weeds. With boards and a rope hooking her red wagon onto her walker, she joyfully tended her half-acre. She loved her neighbors dearly and appreciated their generous assistance. A smile always graced her face. Flowers were her passion. You could find her working in her garden, driving the lawn tractor, or puttering around in her beloved greenhouse. Scottie dog, Katie, was her constant companion.

At 88, Louise became bionic! She was proud to be the oldest person to receive a cochlear implant. Miraculously, she could hear! Not perfectly, but enough to be elated. She had a long road ahead to hear TV and to talk on the telephone, but she learned to translate mechanical sounds into words. She also tackled the computer and loved getting emails and photos.

Louise continued to live at home until a broken ankle threw a monkey wrench into her life plan. After almost two years in assisted living, she was thrilled to move to her new country home. She "felt like a queen" and thrived as a member of Cathy and Bill Tupper's loving family. Five dogs and three parrots charmed her every day. She cherished having Mugsy sit on her lap. Acres of land, woods, and gigantic rose bushes treated her with blossoms in her room all summer. She was forever grateful for her stunning gardens. She became an ardent bird watcher and took special joy in spotting cavorting hummingbirds. She loved gazing upon her prized possession, her farm dinner bell, in an arbor low enough so she could ring it.

"Family, home, and job" Louise said, made her life happy, along with life's simple pleasures like going to the beach, eating chicken and celebrating birthdays at Grotto's pizza in Rehoboth. She also loved doing bookkeeping at the Harrington Senior Center until her deafness precluded it. She was recently honored as the oldest member, and considered director and mayor, Gene Price and staff, as her extended family.

Her greatest adventures? African safaris, climbing the Great Wall of China, holding a tiger in Malaysia, riding an elephant in India, and being awed by the crown jewels in Russia. She loved Hawaii, Nepal, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Israel, Scandinavia, South America, and cruising down the Amazon. Europe, Australia, Bali and New Zealand were also joyfully explored. She fondly remembered commandeering a Chinese farmer's wagon when she and Judy got stranded on a mountaintop. Her favorite story transpired in Madagascar. A black and white lemur monkey jumped down on her head, grabbed her banana, but chewed on her ear first!

Floating down the Nile in Egypt and at age 82 para-sailing over Bora Bora in French Polynesia, were unforgettable experiences. Visiting exchange student, Anita Sapunar Ponce, in Bolivia and climbing Macchu Picchu in Peru, added treasured memories.

Though she would never toot her own horn, Louise was a radio star in Manitowoc, Wis., where she appeared on Judy's radio shows. Even with deafness before she had her cochlear implant surgery, she sat beside Judy with staff writing out the questions listeners asked. With a chipper voice, she answered, not being able to hear a sound. What guts! She also appeared on Judy's Chicago-based nationally syndicated radio "Dr. Judy Show". Judy also dedicated her Amazon best selling book, "Photo Adventures in Cuba ~ Unlock Your Power of Positivity" to her Mom.

"Grammy" was a bigger star to Judy's three kids and four grand kids who all loved it when Grammy Louise came to visit and make her famous fruit salad. She was also very proud of her adopted family in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Words of wisdom from Louise, "Have the courage to accept your fate and make the most of what you can accomplish. Don't ever sweat the small stuff. I am just a farm girl at heart and don't regret any of my years. I feel so lucky to be at the end of my days here in this heaven on earth with Cathy and Bill and the pets."

Humble, spunky, tenacious, kind, and courageous, Louise was a very special woman. She was the best mother in the world. She is survived by her daughter, Kitty Burgess, Felton, Del, and Dr. Judy Krings and husband, Ken, Manitowoc, Wis. and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; grandsons, Sean McLaughin and Jason and Tommie Krings; granddaughter, Jackie and Brad Vick; and four great-grandchildren, Charlie and Hallie Vick and Grace and Faye Krings; and her adopted grandson in Nepal, Hari Aryal and wife, Dipa, and great-grandchildren, Dipendra and Dipika; special nieces, Bonnie Jester and Lois Pinson and other nieces and nephews; exceptionally dear friends, Cheryl and Bob Nash and family; Bobbie O'Neal, Ohio; Kenny McNatt and family; and many other friends, caregivers and Delaware Hospice staff.

Private interment was at Hollywood Cemetery assisted by Price Funeral Home. Memorials to the Harrington Senior Center 102 Fleming Street, Harrrington are appreciated. Condolences may be sent to Kitty Burgess at kburgess30@yahoo.com and Dr. Judy Krings at drj@lsol.net

Published in Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter on Oct. 11, 2012