Marlene Dolores Bursell, 85, of Mitchell, SD, died Saturday July 2, 2022 at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell.
We lovingly announce to our friends and extended family that our darling, fun, vibrant, and generous mom, Marlene Dolores Bursell passed away on July 2, 2022 in Mitchell, SD. She was 85 years old. Or, as she would tell anyone who asked her, “I’m sixteen with 69 years of experience.”
We are grateful to know of the jubilant reunion she has with our father, Charles Gorwood Bursell, who passed away on February 7, 2010. Also in this happy reunion are her parents, Pieter and Anna De Mann, her sister, our dear Aunt Karen and Uncle Craig Kimball, mother and stepfather Hazel “Rhea” and Cecil Bursell.
We, his children: Karen (Mike) Whitney, Mitchell, SD; Beverly (Guy) Miles, Bakersfield, CA; David (Shelly) Bursell, Windham, NH; Jill (Brian) Hargis, Bakersfield, Calif.; and John (Becky) Bursell, Alpine UT; her adventurous spirit and good-natured smile will be greatly missed.
Mom is survived by Uncle Wayne and Aunt Carol De Mann of Lotus, CA, and Uncle Denny and Aunt Susan of Heber, UT, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Mom is survived by 18 grandchildren: Adam (Jami) Whitney; Spencer (Crystal) Whitney; Geoff (Paige) Whitney; Justine (Nathan) Stornetta; Drew Whitney; Scott Miles; Shelley (David) Brown; Charles Tanner (Krista) Miles; Ben Bursell; Maddy (Ben) Tidwell; Hermana Emma Bursell; Elizabeth (Derek) Wallace; Andrew Hargis; Katherine Hargis; Matthew Hargis; Josie (Nick) Chingas; John Bursell and Jace Bursell.
Mama’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren know her as “Oma”, “grandmother” and “my great-grandmother, the tooth fairy”. She has 13 great-grandchildren: Molly, Charles, Peter, Louise, Ada, Jim, Miles, Madison, Olivia, Nora, Hattie, George and Oliver.
Mom was born November 21, 1936, in Long Beach, California, to U.S. Grant Elementary School, Charles Lindbergh Jr. High School, and David Starr Jordan High School, where she excelled academically and in athletics, winning the best girl athletics in 1955.
After graduating from high school at age 18, she enlisted in the U.S. Airforce on August 23, 1955, stationed in Nebraska at Offutt Air Force Base Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, and served honorably discharged on May 6, 1958.
On May 16, 1959, she married Charles Bursell in the Los Angeles Temple, moving to Bakersfield, California, where Dad worked as a petroleum engineer.
Meanwhile, mom was busy raising five children, several foster children, and was the ultimate housewife. She gardened, raised chickens, landscaped, decorated cakes, raised bees and extracted honey, baked homemade bread, dried fruit and canned everything we grew, including the big albacore that Dad caught during one of his many fishing trips.
Mom often loaded her children into the back of the station wagon to visit nearby farm fields to pick strawberries, cherries, plums, onions, potatoes and corn. All to be canned, dried or frozen. She inherited “Dutch frugality” from her Dutch immigrant parents.
She was an accomplished athlete and outdoorswoman participating in sports leagues and camps and helped Dad build a cedar house at the ranch they bought in the early 70’s. She was skilled with a shotgun , killing invasive rattlesnakes and could wield a chainsaw with artistry. She even became a cement expert, creating a stone retaining wall and patio with extensive landscaping.
Mom not only worked in our home, making sure we took part in sports, piano, ballet and baton lessons, but also served countless hours in our church, scouting and community. She served on the Beardsley School Board from 1985 to 1990 and sang in the Bakersfield College Choir and later the Bremerton Stake Choir in Washington State.
After her children grew up, she returned to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology (1994) and a master’s degree (1999) in education. After that, she taught English at Bakersfield College until she and Dad moved to Washington State to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Zion’s Camp in Belfair. They built a house in Port Orchard and then served again at the Family History Center on another mission for the church and on several other church missions.
Additionally, Mom was a gifted artist working in stained glass, pottery, photography, painting, and drawing. She liked to shock dad with a weird mural painted on her garage door.
Mom had a rebellious side; she loved pulling a good prank (especially if she was the giving type) and was fearless in pursuit of her goals, always giving more than 100% to whatever she decided to do.
Dad passed away in 2010. Mom moved to Mitchell, SD in 2019 and spent the last year of her life socializing and entertaining residents and staff at Edgewood Assisted Living.
She lived her life to the full and the fruits of her labors are seen in her posterity.
Mom will be laid to rest with Dad at a funeral service with military honors at Greenlawn Cemetery in Bakersfield, Calif., on Monday, July 18, 2022 at 9 a.m.
We appreciate Bittner Funeral Chapel in Mitchell, SD, and Cecil Martin in Bakersfield, CA helping our family with Mom’s final arrangements.