Helen Norene McDonald Burt was born on October 10, 1926, in New Hope, Alabama. She died on November 23, 2010, at her home on the Vineyard. Her parents had seven children of which she was the fourth.
Growing up on the family farm was not very exciting. Her father worked very hard to support the family and each of the children had their own jobs to do each day. Helen’s was to milk the cows before leaving for school. In the summer she spent much of her days chopping and picking cotton in the fields. The family raised their own food, and cotton was the cash crop in those days.
Her oldest sister, Ruth, married very young and her next oldest sister, Muriel, left and went to the big city to work in Chicago. Helen wanted very much to have a life different from the farm and she left after high school to join her sister Muriel in Chicago. Helen met Henry Burt in Chicago and they were married here on the Island in 1956.
Helen worked as a draftsman for Western Electric Co. in Chicago until Helen and Henry moved to the Island to eventually buy the boatyard in Vineyard Haven started by Henry’s father. She worked as a secretary for Dr. Russell Hoxsie in Vineyard Haven for several years and then began working at the Tisbury School, making and serving meals in the lunchroom.
She was an accomplished cook, a fine seamstress and housekeeper, and a very caring person. She would often visit friends and fellow members of the First Baptist Church either at home or in the hospital. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
She is survived by her former husband, Henry O. Burt of Vineyard Haven, her son, Stephen A. Burt, and his wife, Brenda, of Hanson; son-in-law Shawn Smith of Mashpee and three grandchildren, Ryan Burt, Shannon Burt, and Ross Stevenson Smith. She is also survived by her brother, Gordon McDonald, her sisters, Jennie Keel and Sara Fisk, and many nieces and nephews, all of Huntsville, Alabama.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the First Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 806, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Services were held on Saturday, November 27, in Oak Grove Cemetery, Vineyard Haven, and at the First Baptist Church, with the Rev. Roger Spinney presiding.
Please visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.