This tribute recognizes a quiet hero, our precious mama
and nanny, Dona Blanche Burgess, who passed on to glory
to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, January 2,
2014, in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Blanche and her husband Leonard, who preceded her
in death on January 14, 1984, were long-time residents of
Hutchinson County. They were married July 28, 1941.
Leonard served under Patton in World War II. When
the war finally ended, Blanche and Leonard rode a 1936
Harley from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Dumas, Texas.
Because it was December, Leonard tried to get his wife
to take the bus, but she would have nothing to do with
his chivalry. She climbed on the back of the Harley, even
though it had no true seat for her. She rode behind her man
in freezing temperatures. At every stop, Dona Blanche put
on more layers of his army fatigues. When they arrived in
Dumas, their shoelaces were frozen. She continued riding
with her husband on that Harley for better or worse, richer
or poorer, in sickness and in healthy for forty-two years.
Leonard went to work for Stekoll Petroleum Company. The couple set up housekeeping in
a small camp house on the Dial Lease, later moving to the Stekoll camp where they lived for
Church and family became Leonard and Blanche’s top priorities. They became active
members of the First Baptist Church of Borger, August 25, 1946. They and their daughters
Suzanne and Mahana served in multiple ministries. Their lives reflected Joshua 24:15: “As for
me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
When Mahana started the first grade, Blanche went back to school receiving her Bachelor
of Science in Education from West Texas State University in 1964 and began her twenty-sixyear
teaching career. She taught third and fourth graders at Pringle, Plemons, and Stinnett,
touching many young lives with her kindness, love, and generosity.
After retiring, Blanche moved back to her roots in McAlester, Oklahoma, where she participated
in many of the tribal Choctaw activities. She tutored in reading at the library and
became active in her church.
As the years passed by, Blanche came to live with her daughters Suzanne Baker and husband
Bud of Borger and Mahana Andrew and husband Robert of Olney, Texas.
She so enjoyed her grandchildren: Misty Wilson and husband Kelly of Mineral Wells,
Randy Green and wife Christina of Borger, Craig Andrew and wife Jaclyn of Wichita Falls,
Kelli Mikkelson and husband Robert of Lewisville, and Kyle Andrew of Lewisville; nine
great-grandchildren: Mackenzie, Mollie, and Emily Wilson, Hannah, Lydia, Josiah, and Rachel
Green, Jacey and Lane Andrew, and Finley Mikkelson arriving in May.
Moma was born November 24, 1922. How do we, her family, sum up 91 years of life? Our
mama and nanny was blessed with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22): love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. She was a powerful prayer
warrior. When Blanche walked “pain free” through the pearly gates, her celebration began
with her Lord saying to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
We know that she glorified God with her giving heart. She made bail for several young
men, bought clothes for her needy students, and took one young student to the beauty shop.
She paid multiple young people’s way to church camp, made sure that different families had
Christmas, gave to many Christian organizations, and gave groceries to a stranger. With her
family, she shared her wisdom and wit. She showed them the pettiness of fussing over the
small stuff. She sent money to her college-aged grandchildren who had been surviving on Raman
Noodles. She sent a note saying, “Hang in there, baby! It won’t always be like this.” She
truly stored her treasures in heaven and became a beautiful vessel, who was always obedient
to the will of God. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren think she is a hoot! In truth,
human words are inadequate to describe our mama and nanny.
A private family committal service was held on Monday, January 6, 2014, at the Stigler
City Cemetery in Stigler, Oklahoma. Memorials may be made to Rathgeber Hospitality
House, 1615 12th Street, Wichita Falls, Texas 76301. This “house” serves patient families at
the United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls.