Through the life of Mary Burac we learn that happiness isn’t found in the accumulation of wealth or possessions or through the praise and recognition of others, but that it is through loving others that we are richly blessed. Mary devoted her life to caring for her husband and children, and she considered it both her highest calling and her greatest blessing to do so. Mary’s tender touch extended to others within her reach as well as she seized every opportunity to send a kind sentiment, make a sweet treat, or to offer a warm smile. We will never forget her true beauty, her generous spirit, and her graceful strength.
The decade of the 1920s was a time of respite between the perils of war WWI and the hardship of the Great Depression throughout the thirties. The year 1927 witnessed Charles Lindbergh pilot his Spirit of St. Louis from New York City to Paris in the first solo transatlantic flight while work began on Mount Rushmore. Also during this time we said goodbye to the silent film era with the opening of The Jazz Singer and witnessed the peak of Broadway, too. It was during this vibrant time in America that a young family from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was preparing for the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over when Mary Louise made her arrival on February 24, 1927, and she was welcomed into the arms of her parents, Francis and Carrie (Malarik) LeFevre. Mary was the younger of two children in her family joining her older sister, Bonita “Bonnie.” Her father was of Indian and French Canadian descent while her mother had Bohemian roots.
As the prosperity of the twenties gave way to the trials of the Great Depression, the LeFevre family was among the countless American families to feel the effects. Food was just enough to get by and meat was a rarity, and there was no money for material possessions either. Mary was especially close with her father, and she always treasured the walks they took together. At times she enjoyed hanging out in Washington Park listening to swing music during the forties. As a teen Mary frequently visited Hoyt Pool to go swimming with friends.
After graduating from high school Mary worked as a switchboard operator at International Harvester. It was during this time that Mary went on a blind date and met a young man named Eugene Burac. They ate their first dinner together at La Choy Chinese Restaurnat. Mary and Eugene fell in love and married on October 22, 1949. Together they were blessed with “seven wonders:” Jim, Lynn, Tom, Laurie, Scott, Leslie, and Steve.
Being a mother seemed to be a role that was tailor made for Mary as she fully grasped the enormity of the task. She was selfless in everything she did as she effortlessly put the needs of her family ahead of her own. Even when Mary was not feeling well she continued taking care of her family while trying to stay in tip top shape at the same time. She was actively involved in the lives of her children, and could often be seen being silly and having fun with them. Mary spoiled her family with her baked goods that were as pleasing to the eye as they were to the palette. Her Christmas cookies looked like they could have jumped right off the page from the Betty Crocker Cookbook she was using, and her poppy seed torte was second to none. Although Mary’s baking skills were unmatched, everyone always preferred Eugene’s cooking!
Mary’s and Eugene’s relationship of 40 years ended with Eugene’s death, February 8, 1988. Mary continued her work as a switchboard operator, working for four years at J.C. Penney at Southridge Mall and then for fifteen years at St. Luke’s Hospital. With a passion for both history and traveling, Mary saw much of the world satiating both loves simultaneously. She traveled to Austria and especially enjoyed seeing Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ouray, Colorado, and Silverton, Colorado. Mary also fully appreciated the peace and serenity of the Sandia and Rocky Mountains, and she liked being called “Ma Gringo” as it was her way of remaining connected to the areas of the country she enjoyed so much.
Throughout her life Mary was a woman with her own set of unique traits and interests. First and foremost in her life was always her family, but Mary also treasured her church and her Democratic Presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. In fact, those who knew Mary knew they better not ever utter a bad word about J.F.K. She was a proud democrat who stood strong on the things she believed in. Mary was articulate and expressive, and she mastered the art of communicating on paper whether it was a note to a family member or friend or a written response to something she read or heard on the news that she wanted to express an opinion about.
The list of things we will miss about Mary Burac is long and includes things such as her devotion to her family, her strong moral convictions, and her great sense of humor. She lived life to the fullest and loved spreading her unending joy through her kind words, her fantastic baked goods, or even a great prank. The memories Mary leaves behind will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of many.
Mary Louise Burac died on August 16, 2011. Mary’s family includes her children, Jim Burac, Lynn (Brad) Buchanan, Tom (Evelyn) Burac, Laurie (Dave) Barwick, Scott (Lou La Sota) Burac, Leslie (Wayne) Edmark, and Steve (Cori Molloy) Burac; grandchildren, Tara and Ryan Burac, Kristen and Seth Buchanan, Adam, Jacob, Kara, and Jordan Burac, Erik and Matthew Barwick, Conner and Garett Edmark and Zac Burac; 5 adorable great-grandchildren, Natalie, Jeremiah, Matthew, Kendal and Braun; and many nieces and nephews, other relatives, and friends. Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene Burac and her sister, Bonnie Chenow. Visitation will be held Friday, Aug 19, 2011 at Jackson Park Lutheran Church, 4535 W. Oklahoma Ave. Milwaukee, WI from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Funeral Services 12:30 p.m. with Pastor Fred Breitfeld officiating at 12:30 p.m. Interment Wisconsin Memorial Park. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Niemann / Suminski. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.