Thursday, December 18, 2008
Burrow’s legacy – service to others
By SUE WATSON
One of Byhalia’s beloved died last week after a short battle with cancer.
Jean Burrow, remembered as a mother to many, a health care professional, a mentor and friend, a promoter of the Town of Byhalia and servant of her church, will be missed.
Burrow was born in the Cayce community, was home-schooled by her mother the first year then attended Collierville School. After graduation, she took a course in laboratory technology at John Gaston Hospital in Memphis and worked in public health right up to her death just nine days shy of her 79th birthday.
She married Wade L. Burrow, a partner in Burrow Hardware Store on Church Street in Byhalia. She also helped in the business and kept in touch with the community that way. For many years, Burrow worked for the Wright Clinic (sanatorium) in Byhalia where she met famous people, including the famous Oxford writer William Faulkner.
Burrow worked part-time in recent years for Williams Medical Clinic/Alliance Healthcare System, where she became famous for her dedication to children after taking over the Health Screening Program for Children.
“Working with and knowing Nurse Burrow, primarily in the later years of her life, made me pause often and wonder, ‘What kind of tireless and dedicated worker she must have been at a younger age if she works this hard now,’” Dr. Kenneth Williams said.
“She took our EPSDT (Health Screening Program for Children) program at the clinic from nowhere to one of the top programs in the state. She was dedicated to, loyal to and worked diligently for causes she believed in. She loved and gave her all to children’s health care needs, Marshall County, the Town of Byhalia, Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce, Williams Medical Clinic/Alliance Healthcare System, the history of Byhalia and this area, her family and extended family of which I consider us a part of.”
At First Presbyterian Church in Byhalia, Burrow was known for her annual Christmas program and for her Sunday School class for children.
“She prepared thoroughly and the children gathered around her like chicks around a mother hen,” said Don Wilson, pastor for the church for over 40 years.
Wilson said Burrow was “brave in her sickness and didn’t complain.”
“The last few weeks she was barely able to go, but she only complained she was weak and pretty frail. She kept going to the clinic. She really admired that clinic.”
Wilson said Burrow had a strong faith but was not the kind who would buttonhole people and ask, are you saved?
“She was a person of pretty strong convictions and worked for what she felt was good or right or best,” he said.
Throughout her illness, Burrow continued to call those who were sick to ask how they were doing and to comfort, he said.
“She’ll be missed in the church,” he said.
Texie Prather, a close friend, said Burrow was very civic-minded and helped initiate the historic district in Byhalia.
“She did a lot for a lot of people for whom she was not obligated to do,” Prather said. “She was knowledgeable medically speaking, and took care of lots of people. And she and her husband were involved socially, having large parties at their house where they made you feel welcome.”
Burrow was well thought of by many and race was no barrier for her, Prather said.
“She did a lot for children and circulated about in public health circles and lots of people leaned on her for support and advice.”
Sheree Edwards, another fan of Burrow, said Burrow would call when her mother-in-law was ill.
“We always knew she would be calling when someone was sick,” Edwards said. “She was good to make you feel uplifted after her call. And no matter how she felt, she asked how we were.”
Burrow became Byhalia’s resident historian and with Lois Swanee co-wrote a book on the History of Marshall County.
“We lost our Byhalia historian,” said Edwards. “We don’t know who is going to step into her shoes. If anyone wanted to know anything about this town, she knew. She loved Byhalia and everyone will miss her. That’s what’s great about a small town; everyone steps in to become a second mother.”
And second mother she was to Byhalia’s Sarah Sawyer. Her mother and Burrow were best friends and Sawyer said she was raised at the Burrows’ home.
“When I became an adult, I looked to her for advice,” Sawyer said. “She cared about a wide range of things. She loved to talk late at night - just talking about family and Byhalia. I referred people to her for anything about history.”
Burrow helped Sawyer get her first two jobs after college graduation. Her first job was working as a helper to Joyce Akins at the Extension office. Then Sawyer worked with the Marshall County Health Department.
Burrow served as president of the board of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce one year and was active in chamber work. Last year, the chamber presented Burrow with the prestigious Leader of the Year Award.
Jean Armour Burrow died at home December 10. She was a lifetime member of the Byhalia First Presbyterian Church. She was buried, following memorial services, in Byhalia Cemetery.
Matthew 25: 34-36, 40: Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O Blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’
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