D. Naomi Burch

D. Naomi Burch, an educator for more than forty years, slipped her earthly bonds on January 8, 2013, after two years of declining health. She was born New Year's Day in 1927, the only child of the late Mac L. and Marie Williams Braden, who were farmers in Amsterdam, Mo. She graduated in 1945 from Butler (Missouri) High School, where she was a classmate of her future husband Charles Burch. Naomi received an associate degree from Southwest Baptist College and taught for three years in the one-room Star and Miller schools in Bates County, Missouri. She then pursued a bachelor's degree in education at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and she and Charles married during their senior year, on December 22, 1950. The newlyweds moved to Burlington, Vt., where Charles took a job at the University of Vermont. After her daughters Peggy and Holly were born, Naomi taught at various schools across the country, including in Fort Collins, Colo., and Garden City, Kans., as the family moved for Charles's work. They settled in Chambersburg where Naomi taught elementary and middle-school students for the duration of her long career. She retired in 1992. An accomplished seamstress, gardener, cook, and homemaker, Naomi was dedicated in her personal as well as her professional life. She created dresses to order for her daughters and grand-daughters and spent two years making intricately designed needlework Christmas stockings for her grandchildren. Her homemade tomato juice was a family staple, and her Thanksgiving feasts, with homegrown vegetables and pecan pies, were works of art. Naomi had a lifelong love of horses and cats, including the indomitable Chessie, her pet of the last fifteen years. Though of diminutive stature, she had a commanding presence in the classroom, respected for her teaching skills and ability to maintain calm and discipline. One former student, now a professor at the University of Virginia, recalls a showdown between Mrs. Burch and a middle-school boy twice her height, in which one assertive glance sent him back to his seat. During the 1971-72 academic year, Naomi did it all. While she taught full-time and earned her master's degree in education from Shippensburg University, the family hosted an exchange student from Bogota, Colombia. She and Charley traveled the globe, visiting Russia, India, and South America. While in India, they visited the TajMahal on the night of a full moon. They took a 22-day trek on the old Inca Trail in Peru from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, camping on ice along the way. Naomi was a founding member and president of the Rho Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, the international society of women educators. She was also a member of the American Association of University Women and the Pennsylvania State Education Association. A member of St. Paul United Methodist Church for 47 years, Naomi served 18 years on the church financial committee, eight years as its chairperson, and was a member of the board of trustees. She is survived by her husband Charley; daughter Peggy Burch of Memphis, Tenn.; daughter and son-in-law Holly Burch and Clif Wieden of Falmouth, Mass.; and granddaughters, Zoe and Nora Kahn, who knew her as "Nomi." She also leaves two step-grandchildren, Cliff Wieden IV and Conan Wieden. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Paul United Methodist Chuch, 750 Norland Ave., Chambersburg. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., and a reception will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul United Methodist Church. Arrangements are under the direction of the Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Chambersburg. Online condolences may be offered on her Book of Memories page at www.geiselfuneralhome.com

Published in Public Opinion on Jan. 10, 2013