Shirley Madeline Burgess

CHEBEAGUE ISLAND -- Shirley Madeline Burgess, 89, of Chebeague Island, died Saturday March 1, 2008, at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

She was born on Chebeague Island on Aug. 5, 1918, the daughter of Ernest E. and Clara M. Ross. An independent and intelligent woman, Shirley believed in family, God and the power of creativity. In the creative world she lived her life; a world where the kitchen table was for painting and lunch would include a multicolored toasted cheese sandwich. The glasses tasted of turpentine and the table was a field of carved shorebirds on cookie trays drying for shipment. She styled hair and picked crab meat, knit sweaters and huge socks for the boys' fishing boots, sewed stylish wool skirts, taught Sunday School, wrote scripts for Christmas pageants, balanced the lobster books and read to her children every night. She was a force to be reckoned with and a joy to know. If you dared to express your opinion, you would definitely hear one in return.

A staunch supporter of the Democratic principle and early voter in every election, you always knew where she stood. She loved the artist and the poet, celebrated protest lyrics, welcomed every environmentalist knocking at her door and never failed to find time for her grandchildren.

Shirley attended the Island schools and graduated valedictorian of her class in 1936. Prior to WWII she moved to Portland to earn her living as a cosmetologist. During this time she met her husband, Alger Burgess. They returned to live on Chebeague and raise their three children. As a team, they became active members of the Chebeague Island Methodist Church and leaders of the Boy and Cub Scout troops. In 1962, Shirley was appointed postmaster on Chebeague Island, a position she held with pride until retirement in 1984.

Shirley was predeceased by her parents and brother, Arnold Ross. She is survived by her children, daughter Sharon Bowman and sons Ernest E. and David T. Burgess; sister, Frances Todd, all of Chebeague Island; and four grandchildren; Chris and Erin Burgess, Caitlin and Mark Bowman.

In all the places we have lived and loved, other human beings have created an identity before us, a certain meaning of place for all of us who have followed. Within her watercolors, oils, carvings and quilts the Island's generations live on. In a stone sloop's granite bow, an orange daylily's tilt sunward, an early evening tide at Springettes shore or her father's shingled- faced fishouse they live on in each brush stroke. In this legacy of art and love of community this Island will remember an artist who cherished her heritage. In this moment of life and death this family will recall time and time again the woman who provided us with nourishment, spirituality, art, literature and the courage to learn and transcend. She lived her life on the Island, yet never felt the boundaries of the shoreline.

Arrangements are being handled by Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home. Online condolences may be sent to
    Memorial donations may be
    made to:
    The Chebeague Island
    Methodist Church
    Chebeague Island, Maine 04017