June 20, 1931 — Sept. 12, 2013
Barbara Lee (Runkle) Burrus, 82, passed away Sept. 12. Her unforgettable life came to an end at her Corvallis home, accompanied by her husband and children.
Barbara’s 82 years were filled with family, a love of life and a taste for adventure.
She was born in Grand Island, Neb., to Miles Franklin and Aleta Teresa (Harker) Runkle. Her family moved to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Albany in 1942. She joined the fifth-grade class at Madison Grade School and was seated in front of the boy who would later become her husband of nearly 63 years, Martin Mosher “Moe” Burrus. Barbara was active in student government, girls’ sports and the girls’ athletic association.
She and Moe graduated from Albany High School in 1949, and she enrolled in nursing school at Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
Despite the rules against student nurses being married, Barb and Moe were wed on Nov. 18, 1950, before his deployment in the Korean conflict. Together they had four children and made Corvallis their permanent home in 1960. Barb was a skilled homemaker who was equally gifted in the kitchen, the garden and her sewing table. She grew beautiful flowers — including peonies and dahlias — made the best strawberry jam, and knew the secret to fantastic homemade ice cream.
Always willing to help when needed, Barb was an active member of First Christian Church in Corvallis for 53 years, where she helped with the church’s soup kitchen to feed those in need, participated in the Dew Knots sewing group to make quilts as a church fundraiser, and provided altar arrangements with flowers she grew in her garden.
The adoring grandmother of seven, Barb was very active and supportive of her grandkids’ activities. She sewed costumes for dance performances, listened to hours of music practice and recitals, and attended hundreds of baseball, basketball, football, soccer and tennis matches. All of her grandkids knew she was their biggest fan.
She shared her time and talents with them, from teaching the trick to Thanksgiving gravy to imparting the wisdom that the difference between a flower and a weed lies in the eye of the beholder.
Barbara loved all that life had to offer, from big family camp-outs at the coast to season tickets to the opera. She loved exploring new places; the couple traveled extensively, touring Europe, visiting Israel, doing three-month mission projects in both Ethiopia and Brazil, hiking the Great Wall of China and staying in yurts in rural Mongolia. They also enjoyed touring the United States, taking their travel trailer to Death Valley each winter.
Everywhere they went, they made lifelong friends along the way. Barb kept in touch with everyone and wrote volumes of books’ worth of letters. Each year, it would take her almost a month to complete all of her Christmas cards, which she used to keep in touch with their friends around the world.
Throughout a lifetime of nurturing and impacting those around her, it was the example she set that will remain her legacy: to unconditionally love and support your family, to help those in need, and to say yes to a great adventure, but also revel in returning home.
Barb and Moe’s youngest son, Kristen Burrus, was waiting in heaven to welcome Barb, as was her sister, Maxine (Runkle) Grenz.
Remaining to celebrate her life and honor her memory are her husband, Martin Burrus; children Rodney Burrus of Cornelius, Cortney Burrus of Corvallis and Marcie Burrus of Corvallis; and grandchildren Elizabeth (Louden) Mills, Joshua Burrus, Angela (Burrus) Rummel, David Burrus, Boe Burrus, Andy McDonough and Delaney McDonough. She was expecting her first great-grandbaby this fall.
Her family would like to thank those who have sent cards and prayers, as well as to Benton Hospice Service. Donations in Barb’s memory can be made to First Christian Church’s Stone Soup program in care of the church, 602 S.W. Madison Ave., Corvallis, OR 97333.