Mary Frances Burke Riggs
1945 - 2018
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Mary Frances Burke Riggs

Newbury Park, CA

Mary Frances Burke Riggs, 72, was born February 15, 1945, in Riverside, California, the second of five kids to Mary and Gerald (Jerry) Burke. She died on February 1, 2018, at home in Newbury Park, California, surrounded by her family. She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Larry Riggs, her four kids, Cathy, Jenny, Brian and Dave, five grandkids, two wonderful daughters-in-law, Marion and Jen, her 97-year-old father, Jerry, her sister Teresa and her brother Michael.

Mary, affectionately known to her family as "Muffy," moved 14 times with her husband Larry, a computer programmer with wanderlust, from the time of their marriage in 1966 until finally settling in Newbury Park in 1980. They lived in various parts of Southern California, Northern California, New Jersey, and England, where her youngest son, Dave, was born. Mary was a middle and high school teacher and took more than a decade off work to raise her children. She eventually attained a Master's degree and retired in 2014 as a linguistics professor at California State University at Northridge.

Mary was an accomplished painter, avid gardener, prolific reader, master storyteller, maker of outstanding jams (especially her apricot jam), and crocheter of afghans, scarves and hot pads. She never missed an opportunity to surprise a native Spanish speaker with her proficiency in Spanish, learned as a young exchange student in Argentina. She learned some French and Greek while living in England, and could speak German to her daughter-in-law Marion.

In 1997 Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received treatment and lived almost 20 years in remission until that same cancer reared its ugly head again, having metastasized throughout her body, in 2016. She again received treatment for the cancer and lived long enough to meet her youngest grandson, but the cancer eventually won the fight. Mary's greatest hope was that someday there would be a cure for cancer and no one else would have to fight like she did.

A memorial service will be held at St. Julie's Catholic Church at 2475 Borchard Road in Newbury Park on Saturday, February 10, at 11 am, followed by a reception in the parish hall. More information can be found on her website, In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the American Cancer Society.

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Published in Ventura County Star from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9, 2018.
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