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Elizabeth Corby Burns, known to loved ones as Betty, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on February 10th, 1945 to Michael and Catherine Corby. She attended Cathedral High School ('62) then received a bachelors degree in English from Rosemont College ('66) and her masters in English from the University of Scranton ('72). She is survived by her husband Terrence Burns and their four children: Rebecca Burns, Meghan and her husband Shawn Higgins, Catherine and her husband Aaron Wilson, their two daughters Stella and Silvie, and her son Christopher Burns.
Betty and Terry were introduced to one another by Terry's sister Marianne, a friend of Betty's from college. The ensuing union would span more than half a century. As newlyweds in 1969, Betty and Terry moved from their hometown of Scranton to Pennington, New Jersey where they remained until retiring to nearby Lawrenceville, NJ. They navigated life as a unit in a steady current of laughter and adventure, traveling to England, Russia, and Italy along the way. They vacationed every summer in Cape May and frequented New York City.
Before becoming a teacher Betty worked as a literary editor. She continued freelance editing over the course of her career. Betty was a seasoned educator, teaching one-on-one classes in the Learning Center at The Pennington School for twenty-six years (1989-2015). Instilling young minds with curiosity and confidence when they needed it most, Betty helped students blossom in and out of the classroom with her warm style of encouragement and humor. She was a transformative and beloved figure in the education and development of many former students who have expressed their fondness and gratitude for the sustained benefit of her friendship and tutelage.
Betty's greatest joy and purpose in life were the same: being a mother, and she participated in every element of motherhood with all her heart. With each of her children, granddaughters, nieces, nephews, and even her sons-in-law, she shared a vast eclectic bond that occurs when kindred sensibilities are united by love.
Betty admired all aspects of nature as an avid gardener and observer of the sky, occasionally remarking she wouldn't mind a sweater in the color of that evening's sunset. She recognized a sacred nobility in the spirit of animals, delighting at the glimpse of a field of cows or horses, a perching bird, an interesting bug. She was the loving owner of dogs, cats, fish, tadpoles, and a parakeet.
Betty's passion for providing her children all the wonders of a beautiful childhood extended to their peers with her dynamic involvement in youth-related programs. Betty was a Girl Scout Troop leader, a CCD teacher, frequent babysitter, campaigner in local politics, director, choreographer, and costume designer for school and at-home theatrical productions, a band mom (having the drummer for a son), and a perpetual attendant of recitals, concerts, musicals, plays, exhibits, sports contests and banquets in support of her children, her friends' children, and her students. Betty oversaw formative activities for kids and young adults, applauding their achievements with sincere enthusiasm and her charismatic aplomb.
Gifted with a sewing machine, Betty produced for her family magnificent quilts, pillows and wardrobes of fashionable garments in her signature couture that remain in rotation today. Among her grandchildren's favorite outfits are the stylish handiwork of their creative and industrious Nana.
Betty's craftiness overlapped with her attention to the details of her children's milestones, no matter how small, as her volumes of scrapbooks attest. She buoyed their progress with her careful preservation of their accolades and good work. A consummate archivist, Betty's collection of perfectly captioned photo albums and historical documents are both a tribute to the gratitude she felt for her family and a thorough record for the ages.
Betty read in bed at night and was always in the midst of a book and looking for the next one. Her appetite for literature, music, film, dance, and theater complemented her natural vibrancy and imbued her children with a deep regard for the arts.
Holidays and noteworthy events were especially important to Betty. From New Year's to Thanksgiving, behind every detail of decor was her thoughtful intention to embody the spirit of the season with a festive notion and some flair. Betty's Halloween aesthetic was a witch in front of a moon and so much more. Providing a bounteous meal or throwing a fabulous party was a source of elation for Betty. She reveled in the enjoyment of her often rowdy guests. If it can be said of anyone, Betty was the queen of Christmastime, embarking on her preparations early in the year to produce a magical Christmas for her family full of reverence and joy and dreams come true.
Betty's sense of humor was a magnetic force to those around her. She knew there is always a laugh to be had and if you couldn't summon it she'd summon it for you with a look. Betty was adored and appreciated by family, friends, students, and all she touched in the course of a glorious life. She is forever loved and cherished.
Visitation for Elizabeth C. Burns will be held at Blackwell Memorial Home at 21 North Main Street, Pennington, NJ on Sunday, March 19th from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.
The mass of christian burial will be held on Monday, March 20th at 12:00pm at Saint James Roman Catholic Church at 115 East Delaware Avenue, Pennington, NJ. Following the service will be a burial at Pennington Cemetery, across the street from Saint James on Delaware Avenue.
Sunday, March 19, 2023
3:00 - 6:00pm (Eastern time)
Blackwell Memorial Home
Monday, March 20, 2023
12:00 - 12:45pm (Eastern time)
St. James Church
Monday, March 20, 2023
1:00 - 1:15pm (Eastern time)
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