Mary Viola Burke



Mary Viola Burke, 82, of Medford, Ore., passed away at Rogue Valley Medical Center on Saturday, July 25, 2009 after a brief illness.

Mary or "Vi," as family called her, was born in Delaware County, Okla. on Jan.10, 1927, the fourth child of Pearl Earl and Otie Olive Gerhard. After graduating high school in 1945 she boarded a train for Washington, D.C. where she went to work for the Navy Department. She served as a hostess at the National Baptist Church USO Canteen where she met her life mate, Robert Paul Burke, a young soldier stationed in Virginia at the close of World War II. They were married in Elmhurst, Ill., on Nov. 23, 1946. They ventured out to Los Angeles, Calif., in November of 1948 where they made their home until moving to Oregon in 1978.

Mary continued to work in the secretarial field in different settings, including 14 years as the church secretary at First Presbyterian Church in Medford. She retired in 1994 and spent much of her time volunteering at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. She enjoyed sewing, crocheting, working jigsaw puzzles, reading, traveling and volunteering. She was also a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

She collected angels and believed strongly in their existence, especially angels on earth. She was our Angel on Earth, always having a comforting word and taking in the "orphans" of the world, many of whom have become life long friends.

Survivors include her loving husband, Robert Burke; two daughters, Shirley (Bob) Penney, of Medford and Sheila (Ed) DeVries, of Ripon, Calif.; grandchildren, Rick Jones, of Carbondale, Ill., Ryan (Andrea) Penney, of Chandler, Ariz., Barbara Penney, of Portland, Ore., Jonathan (Jennifer) Penney, of Central Point, Ore. and Jason DeVries of Portland, Ore.; great-grandchildren, Derick, Dylan, Brayden and Felicity Penney; brother, Loyd (Lois) Gerhard, of Broken Arrow, Okla.; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and three sisters.

The family would like to thank the wonderful caring doctors and staff at RVMC Intensive Care Unit for the loving care they administered to the most beautiful lady in the world during the last two weeks of her life. She truly was our Angel on Earth.

A memorial service will be held in the chapel at the Eagle Point National Cemetery on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Aspens on the Creek Community Center, 2252 Table Rock Road. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 South Central, Medford; the American Heart Association or a favorite charity. Abbey Funeral is in charge of arrangements.