Natalia Burleson

  • "Natalia, I was so fortunate to have known you, even for so..."
    - Kelsi Taylor
  • "Hard to believe it's been five years. You were an..."
    - Holly Ginter
  • "You will be missed! You were a very lovely and one of a..."
    - Alicia Webb
  • "Oh my god! I had no Idea, I miss you so much Tasha! Seems..."
    - Ashley Webb
  • "I really miss her so much and one day i hope to see her..."
    - Timothy Yamaoka

Natalia "Tasha" Burleson, 18, died unexpectedly at home Aug. 16, 2009, following complications after surgery. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 2222 E. Tudor Road. A viewing for close family and friends will precede the service at 1 p.m. If Tasha was around, it was always she who marked the moment. An authentic force, born on Feb. 21, 1991, Tasha was a survivor of the overcrowded orphanages of that Russian era, and was brought to the U.S. at 18 months of age by adoptive parents Neal Burleson and Donna Monahan. As a child, Tasha loved the simple things in life: flowers, "secret places" and skipping rocks. She always had great compassion for animals and underdogs. Her father, Neal, recalls taking her to the ice rink as a child; there, Tasha always took the time to help a struggling new skater. As a teen, Tasha challenged the conventions of society, which was reflected in her sophisticated and whimsical sense of fashion, her insightful poetry and amazing approach to art, where she would often draw an eye at the top of a page and a toe at the bottom, and connect the anatomy in perfect proportion, on pure instinct. It was a joy to her family as she elevated to her potential as a mature, self-confident and compassionate leader with deep-rooted friendships. Tasha was a part of the youth group at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, where she will be warmly remembered as extremely bright and articulate. She engaged in deep questions about life and meaning with enthusiasm, seriousness and joy. Her minister remembers her as a "young woman who found a strong and authentic faith in Christ through her hard-fought struggles overcoming obstacles in her life." Tasha is survived by her parents, Neal Burleson and Donna Monahan; her grandmothers, Stella Monahan and Jeanne Edwards; and her aunts and uncles, Beverly Burleson, Joan Burleson and husband Jim Mulligan, Brenda Monahan and Jerrie Ruks. She was preceded in death by her beloved "Papa," Harold Monahan, and grandfather, Dale Edwards. She also leaves her numerous friends and beloved pets. Tasha had a great passion for animals and the family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alaska SPCA, 549 W. International Airport Road, Suite B2, Anchorage 99518.

Published in Anchorage Daily News from Aug. 22 to Aug. 23, 2009