No one has written my mother’s life story. There is almost no one left to write it. I wish I knew more, so I could tell my daughters and the rest of my family. I will use the pictures I have and tell what I know.
Patricia June Burr was born in Roseburg, Oregon, 27 May 1926 to Harry William Burr, Jr. and Clarice Olive Peter Burr.
- Harry holds up little daughter Patricia while Clarice looks on.
Toddler Patricia with her mother, Clarice.
I think, in these pictures, they still lived in the Roseburg area.
I love the details in this photo. Mother was definitely a child of the 1920s. From her little bobbed hairdo to the shiny patent leather Mary Janes and the Art Deco inspired studio background, this portrait tells of the times.
Does she make the fish look big, or does the fish make her look small?
You’ll see in a lot of these photos that Mama was a natural poser. I love how the pant leg that is rolled up is not on the leg that is stuck in the mud. Her father, Harry Burr, was a great fisherman, and often took his kids. I’m sure he couldn’t resist showing off how his prize fish compared to the size of his daughter.
Many moods of Patricia, and not at all camera shy
I can see from this photo I inherited my mother’s hair line and her full lips, but not those delicate eyebrows. Think I might have gotten just a little of her flair for drama, too, and passed it on?
Here’s the first picture I found of Mama with her younger brother, Bill Burr. My guess is this is about 1932.
Family Portrait of the Burrs, with little Bill mugging for the camera
The Burrs in summertime Sunday best, during the 1930s. Notice Clarice’s spectator pumps, and bias cut dress.
Bill and Patricia pose on a snowy day.
I think Uncle Bill and my mom look like they could have been cast in a Christmas movie musical. Doesn’t Mama look like a bobbysoxer? Even if she is wearing those nifty overshoes. I think Grandpa Burr was as interested in taking a picture of the icicles as he was of photographing his kids!
The Burrs loved the outdoors. When they still lived in Roseburg, they often fished and camped along the Umpqua River.
Patricia and Bill Burr with cousins, Shirley and Allen Richards and unknown others
Here’s a summertime photo, and it looks like it is in Homedale, Idaho. I recognize my Mom (second from left), her brother Bill, their cousin Shirley Richards (Clarice’s sister Helen’s daughter) barely visible in the back row, and their cousin Allen Richards, Helen’s son.
Wish I could identify everyone else. Kushlan cousins, any help? Is that Johnny Kushlan behind Allen? I wouldn’t have expected him in the picture while Bill was so young, but I don’t really know the timing of those family events. And who are the other three? More family?
Bill and Patricia with their dog, Mickey
Another one of those pictures that looks like it comes from a Hollywood movie. The girl next door, her little brother and their dog.
Patricia, Mickey and an unknown Cat
I’ve been looking at this picture for over 50 years, and it wasn’t until I blew it up big enough to see on the screen, that I noticed Mama is also petting a cat!
And just for good measure, here’s a puppy. Does it look like Mama is wearing someone’s letterman’s sweater? I guess I’ll never know.
Patricia clowns with the Drama Club
I know Mama was in a play in high school, and this is a cast photo. From what I remember hearing about this photo, the couple in the center of the front row were the lead in the play, and Mama and the boy she is clowning with to the left were in comic supporting roles.
Patricia Burr and cousin Shirley Richards
How about these darling dresses and 1940s hairstyles?
Shirley and Patricia look like cover girls!
June Allyson and Deanna Durbin in a movie poster? No, it’s Shirley Richards and Patricia Burr of Homedale, Idaho.
Patricia, William A. Burr, Jr and other family in California 1942
I just found out this year, interviewing my dad, that after the US went to war following the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted in Mama’s home town in Idaho, because they refused to salute the US flag. Mama was a high school student, but she moved to California and lived with her Uncle Bill, Harry’s little brother. They are the two kneeling in the front. I think, but I am not sure, that the couple standing on the left are Harry’s sister Mae and her husband. There is no one left who can name the other people. Anyone have any clues?
Table tennis, anyone?
I love this photo of Mama, because it reminds me of how athletic she was as a young woman. Dig that California tan!
Mama returned to Homedale in time to graduate.
Mama rocking the tomboy look.
I love how she made a baseball cap, pedal pushers and bobby socks in sneakers look feminine.
Patricia and Kay triple dating in 1940s
Is it any wonder why my parents (the couple on the left) fell in love? I think Dad looks like John Wayne in this picture. And Mom — looks like a million bucks.
Johnny and Shirley Kushlan
And this would be the right time to let you see the hunk mom’s cousin Shirley fell in love with and married. Dig that leather jacket. And is that a Texaco Star on his cap? I love this photo.
The classic Wedding Cake photo…
…and the “just married” get-away car shot.
Patricia as Mother
Patricia with her first daughter, Kathleen
I think Kathy is about 11 months old here. It’s the earliest photo I have of Mama and her. But you can see how proud Patricia is to be a mother.
Kathleen with Uncle Bill Burr
By 1949, baby brother Bill is all grown up, and loves his little niece, Kathy.
I love this picture of my Uncle Bill and my sister Kathy. We would call her a “special needs” child today. She was a beautiful blonde, with a gift for music, inherited from my Dad — which you would know, if you ever heard my mom sing.
Susan, Patricia and Kathy
I was born five years after Kathy. Here we are with Mom, on an outing in the Oregon mountains.
I like to think Mama is holding me up proudly to the camera.
Mom and Dad’s third daughter, Nancy Kay, was born in March of 1955.
I just barely remember these days. I have a few pictures of Mama with the new baby, and me having to be a big girl and give up my bottle.
Now, this I do remember. Kathy and I each got a tea set, and new dollies.
This is probably around Nancy’s first birthday. Around this time, Mama was baptized into the church my Dad had grown up in, and we became a Mormon family.
I can only imagine what it took to get the three of us ready for church and there on time every Sunday. For one thing, it took lots of bobby pins.
Our family was sealed in the Idaho Falls temple less than a year before little Nancy was struck by a car and killed. She was a beautiful, loving child, and every time I read about how one must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, I think of my little sister as an example.
Myself (Susan), my father’s sister Joyce, Mom, Kathy, Dad and his father Reuben at Nancy’s funeral. I thought about straightening this photo, but it seems right to have it off kilter. That point in time shifted our family dynamic. My mother had already started showing signs of the chronic, progressive brain damage that would take her life thirteen years later. She was never the same after this day.
I don’t have pictures of Mama after this. I realize now that she didn’t want to be photographed as her body deteriorated, and we obliged her.
I have memories of her, though. She suffered long and terribly. But she continued to love. She loved music, she loved watching baseball, ice skating and anything that would make her laugh. But most of all, she loved her family, and told us so as long as she could speak.
I learned that communicating is not dependent on words, it’s a spiritual connection. Learning that was a gift from my mother’s suffering.
I love you, Mom. I have felt you near me, when I needed you most. We will meet again, “on that beautiful shore.”
I hope this has given the people I love a better picture of the wonderful woman who was and is my mother.