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Elizabeth Catherine Burch

January 16, 1924 June 19, 2011
Elizabeth Catherine Burch
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Obituary for Elizabeth Catherine Burch

Elizabeth Catherine Burch of Birmingham, died peacefully at home, June 19, 2011, surrounded by her family. Elizabeth was born at home during a snowstorm, January 16, 1924, in Chicago, Illinois. Known as Sis to her family, she was the first daughter and third child of seven children born to Edna and David Burke. Elizabeth�s grandparents originated from Ireland and Quebec City, Canada. A child of the depression, she was raised with frugality and sparseness of material things, thus retaining a lifelong adherence to saving and wise spending.

Elizabeth graduated from vocational high school at the age of 16 and worked as a stenographer in downtown Chicago for Time Life Company and later for the Morton Salt Company.

In her late teens, Elizabeth met her husband Johnny at a house party. She danced Big Band with Johnny every weekend in ballrooms all over downtown Chicago. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Johnny enlisted. Elizabeth waited for him throughout his tour of duty with the United States Army. They became engaged before Johnny shipped out in 1944 to Germany, where he was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. Once freed by the British, Johnny returned to the States and married Elizabeth in June 1945.

As post-war newlyweds, Elizabeth and John started their family on the far south side of Chicago; however, John�s positions in retail moved them around the Midwest as they brought into the world 8 daughters and 2 sons. A new baby and a promotion were synonymous. They resided in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and finally Michigan.

As a devout Catholic, Elizabeth enrolled her children in Catholic schools and followed the Catholic faith in her actions and words. Her mantra to her children was, �If you cannot say something good about a person, do not say anything at all.�

Elizabeth believed in women�s rights and was a supporter of migrant workers. She started a compost heap in the backyard of her home, to recycle and not waste food or materials of any kind. Her refrigerator at times resembled a penicillin mold farm before a left-over was thrown out. Elizabeth did not believe in vitamins for children, as they would surely get this in a good diet, and refused to have their tonsils taken out.

Elizabeth was active in her parish, St. Regis, as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Member of the Justice of Peace Commission, and participated in the Homeless Program.

She graduated from Oakland Community College with an Associate�s Degree in 1988, at the age of 64. Elizabeth traveled to see the Shakespearean Festival in Stratford Ontario for many years.

Elizabeth will be remembered best as a person who progressed throughout her life; a shy girl who married, and raised 10 children alone while her husband traveled, dedicated herself to education, continual interests in the arts and above all her devotion to her religion and self improvement in her last days.

Elizabeth lived her last 3 years independently while suffering the debilitating effects of congestive heart failure, suffering, but always moving to staunchly remain in charge of her own destiny.

Elizabeth is survived by her children, Joyce (Jerry) Cunningham, Geraldine (the late Roy) Cowdrey, John W. Burch III, Jeannette (John) Beardslee, Elizabeth C. Burch, Dolores Burch, Mary Langhauser, Stephen (Lisa) Burch, Catherine Burch, and Nancy Burch-Long. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and her brother, John (Betsy) Burke. Elizabeth is preceded in death by her husband, John W. Burch, Jr., and her siblings, William (Sally), David (Ruth), Mary (Jerry Harvey), Virginia (Edward Phillipps), and Catherine.

Visitation will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks Road (between 14-15 Mile Rds.) Thursday 3-8:30pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Regis Church, 3695 Lincoln Drive, Bloomfield Hills, 48301, Friday 10am. Friends may visit at church beginning at 9:30am. Interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield.

Memorials appreciated to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, 1820 Mt. Elliott Street, Detroit, Michigan 48207.

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