BURGNER, Rita Anne Passed away Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at home with her family, at the young age of 64, following six months of treatment for lung cancer. Her qualifying statement for this disease was "I never smoked." Rita was born in Chattanooga, TN on December 18, 1945 to Leon and Mattiel Gerrard. She is survived by her husband of 35 years, Donald E. Burgner; children, Debra Ann Wilson, David Key Wilson (Elizabeth), Debra Ann Smith (Wayne), Michele E. Burgner and grandchildren, Larkin Key Wilson, Austin Wayne Smith and Colin Everett Smith; sister-in-law, Ann Burgner; as well as puppy Simba and kitty Nala, who also miss her. She graduated from City High School in 1963 and from Middle Tennessee State University in 1985 with an accounting degree. Rita was employed by Liberty Mutual from 1967-1973. Don and Rita operated Thrifty Car Rental franchises in Tennessee since 1973, and have friends and associates all over the country. Thrifty gave them the opportunity to travel to many countries on award trips, which contributed to their memories together. Don and Rita were past members of Chattanooga Yacht Club, active members of Cedar Creek Yacht Club in Nashville for 26 years, and founding members of Rock Harbor Yacht Club. Their cruises on their boat "Rita Anne" and the current "Senorita" have taken them over the entire Cumberland and Tennessee River systems, including portions of the Ohio. Rita's special charities were St. Luke's Community House and it's supporting business, the "This 'N' That" Thrift Shop. She volunteered as a retail associate and served as Treasurer for many years. She also supported Magdalene/Thistle Farms and the Nashville Zoo. Rita shared the philosophy with St. Francis that "For it is in giving that we receive." Rita was an Episcopalian and special friend of Reverend Becca Stevens, priest at St. Augustine's Chapel, and founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms. The family will receive friends on Thursday, September 23rd, from 5 - 8 p.m., at Marshall-Donnelly & Combs Funeral Home, 201 - 25th Avenue, 37203. Rita's Memorial service will be Friday, September 24th at 3 p.m., at Benton Chapel on Vanderbilt Campus, 444 - 21st Avenue South, 37203 officiated by Reverend Becca Stevens. Following the service, a very special Celebration of Life will be held for all friends and family at The Wine Loft, from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m., 503 - 12th Avenue South in The Gulch, Nashville, TN. Contributions in Rita's memory may be made to St. Luke's Community House, Magdalene/Thistle Farms or Alive Hospice of Nashville, TN. MARSHALL DONNELLY COMBS, (615) 327-1111.
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Published in The Tennessean from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19, 2010