It seemed everyone had a story about Grandma B, and we all loved to share them. Grandma B loved them, too, and inevitably she would end up taking over the telling of the tales halfway through, as we all sat around her dining room table after many a holiday meal, content with laughter and full bellies and the quietly bubbling near-chaos that accompanies large-family gatherings. Grandma B’s wry humor and knack for never sweating the small things made the stories that much better. She was the Burningham Family matriarch in every sense of the word, a strong female role model replete with generosity and love and an admirable strength of character, yet she didn’t take herself too seriously, and she definitely dismissed any praise directed her way. Still, she was the best.
Colleen Mae Burningham passed away peacefully in the presence of family on July 3 at Sharp HospiceCare LakeView House in La Mesa. She was 86. Born Nov. 15, 1930, in Los Angeles to James and Vera Moran, Colleen attended UCLA and remained a faithful Bruin throughout her life. Thankfully, none of her children or grandchildren attended USC.
As part of a Navy family, she moved about the East Coast for a number of years until settling in 1971 in San Diego. She worked for the San Diego Unified School District for 22 years, first at Patrick Henry High in the nurse’s office, and then in the attendance office at Pershing Junior High until she retired in 1995. She volunteered at the Grossmont Hospital information desk for fifteen years and stayed connected with her many work friends as part of the Senior Ladies Unified Text Society book club. Yes, that acronym was on purpose. And yes, we’d laugh about it every time she had a gathering.
As any longtime San Diegan knows, the near-perfect weather has a tradeoff: perpetual disappointment in the professional sports franchises. Yet Colleen remained dedicated to the Padres through it all and rarely would miss a game. She had much better success watching her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren compete in a myriad of sports, including softball, baseball, football, golf, water polo, swimming and soccer.
Colleen is survived by her sister, Marg Fuller; six children, Ellen Tiffany, Mark Burningham, David Burningham, Kevin Burningham, Linda Byrd and Anne Clark; sixteen grandchildren; and fifteen great-grandchildren. The family will hold a private memorial service, where we will fondly reminisce about our Grandma B. We will share much laughter and just a few tears; she would have wanted it that way. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St. Jude’s, Memorial ID 11031670 at 800-395-1087 or online at www.stjude.org