Mrs. Eliza Vernise Enoch Burnett, daughter of the late Junious Dale Enoch and late Lorena Enoch, was born on Dec. 14, 1921 in Alamance County. She went home to be with the Lord on Nov. 11, 2012.
Eliza spent her younger years in Alamance County. She attended elementary and high school at Pleasant Grove High School. She was a star basketball player on the Pleasant Grove girls basketball team. Eliza also drove a school bus and became the State of North Carolina's first official female school bus driver. Eliza met her husband to be, James E. Burnett, while working on the farm during her mid-teens in Alamance County, NC. James worked on a nearby farm in the same town. In 1941, James E. Burnett joined the army to fight in World War II. While in the armed services he received an additional assignment of cleaning the uniforms of the colonels.
In 1945 at the end of the war he returned home and married Eliza. To that union one daughter was born. In 1946 James and Eliza Burnett bought a small dry cleaning establishment located on Dudley Street, a part of the East Market corridor. Eliza waited on the customers and James cleaned, pressed and sorted clothes. This was the start of Burnett's Sanitary Dry Cleaners.
In approximately 1962 James and Eliza moved their business to East Market Street. They hired full time employees and their business thrived because of Eliza's smile that greeted people at the front counter. In 1983, James Burnett went home to be with the Lord and Eliza continued the legacy of Burnett's Sanitary Dry Cleaners. Eliza worked six days a week starting at 6:15 a.m. until 5 p.m. Eliza said the best thing about the cleaners was when customers were satisfied and she enjoyed dealing with people. She loved the dry cleaning business and the people she met along the way. The dry cleaning business was her passion and ministry. Eliza was an astute business woman and entrepreneur. She dreamed big and accomplished those dreams with hard work and determination.
On Sept. 25, 2010 Burnett Sanitary Dry Cleaners closed after almost 65 years in business. Eliza, at the young age of 88, officially retired and worked in her garden and with her church. She was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church for over 47 years. During her membership at Shiloh she was an Associate Trustee, member of the Seasoned Saints, member of the Missionary Circle, Team leader of the Southeast Team, Deaconess, member of the Budget Committee, one of the three original organizers of the Floral Club, member of the JT Hairston Apartment Board, attended Zumba class, loved Noon Day Bible Study and was a strong supporter of the Otis L. Hairston Sr. Family Life Center. Eliza loved her church and loved her community. She was a member of the Begonia Flower Club and contributed to many community charitable organizations. Her giving spirit and her love for others benefited not only her church but the community, city and state.
Eliza is survived by her devoted daughter Levonia McCoy and husband the Rev. Donald McCoy of Greensboro, N.C.; granddaughter Tene Cummings and husband Hector of Lynwood IL; two great-grandchildren, McCoy and Harmon; sister, Georgia Knox of Elmira, N.Y.; brother Charles Enoch of Sanford, N.C.; special friend, Clara Henderson; and a host of nieces, nephews and many other relatives, friends and neighbors.
Eliza may be gone in body but her spirit, her smile and her love for others will last a lifetime. For 90 years we were blessed with a phenomenal woman. Funeral services will be conducted at noon Monday, Nov. 19, with 11 a.m. visitation at Shiloh Baptist Church. The interment will be in Martins Chapel Baptist Church cemetery in Mebane, N.C.
Arrangements by Community Funeral Service, Inc. www.communityfuneralservice.net