Obituary of Sarah B. Burdette
Sarah Burdette died peacefully on June 7th, 2022. She was 101 years old. Visitation will be Tuesday, June 14th at 11:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 12:00 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church in Roanoke, AL.
Sarah was born on October 17th, 1920, to Elijah Lee and Eunice Parris. She had 4 brothers: Grant, Bob, Alton, and Junior, and they lived in Wedowee, AL. She attended high school in Wedowee, and then college at Jacksonville State College where she learned to be an Elementary School teacher.
Sarah married John Frank Burdette on May 2nd, 1945, in a ceremony in Florida after he returned home from World War II. They were lovingly married for 68 wonderful years until he passed on September 25th, 2013.
She and John Frank settled in Roanoke, Alabama, where they raised their 4 children (Bill, Bettye, Johnnye, and Lew,) and operated the Burdette Food Store for more than 50 years. Although running a grocery store was often a full-time job for them both, Sarah found a way to teach Kindergarten and Pre-Schoolers out of their home for more than 25 years.
She loved leading Sunday School classes, playing bridge, gardening, decorating the church during holidays, cheering for the University of Alabama Athletics, making desserts, traveling with friends, and taking care of her family.
Living more than 100 years is rare and such a significant milestone, so I can’t help but wonder what explains such a long and prosperous life. Sarah, who was my grandmama, told me that her long life was explained by prioritizing her health and her faith in God. I have no doubt that she’s right about both of those factors, but I might add 2 other things. Hard-work and a sense of purpose were woven into the fabric of her life. There were always projects to complete, chores to finish, improvements to make, encouraging words to say, prayers to pray, new things to try, a helping hand to extend, advice to share, lessons to teach, and lives to help guide. I believe that after she awoke every day, life urged her out of bed, and her inner compass joyfully cheered her away from idleness and towards the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. I bet it felt impossible sometimes, but she never surrendered to grief, fear, or pain.
Sarah was certainly great at doing things, but the love that she shared with her students, customers, friends and especially, her family, are what we’ll miss most about her. 52 members of her family, including her 4 children, 14 grandchildren, their spouses, 27 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild were spending time together at the beach on Tuesday when we learned that God called her home. This was the 45th consecutive year that our family reunited and spent a week together at the beach. It’s a fiercely held tradition that Sarah and John Frank established and one that will continue. A family filled with love for one another isn’t given away for free, can’t be bought, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed to all. A family filled with love, and especially one that extends through generations is EARNED. It’s earned with honesty, hard work, kindness, laughter, discipline, commitment, loyalty, faith, compassion, trust, and forgiveness. Sarah, mother, Grandmama, Memomma, all the names that we used for this exceptional lady, exemplified each of these qualities as well as she could, practiced them until they were habits, and taught each member of her family how valuable and precious this combination of virtues are together.