Marge Burdick, Vail pioneer, 1919-2011
Vail, CO Colorado
Marge Burdick died peacefully in her sleep at midnight Saturday morning at a hospice care center in Grand Junction. Marge moved to Vail in 1962 and lived here 45 years.
Lois Margaret Seale was born July 24, 1919, the only child of Walter B. Seale and Ivy McCleskey Seale of Fort Worth, Texas. Marge remembered a great time growing up with her extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends with their McCleskey family roots centered near Stephenville, Texas, southwest of Fort Worth. Marge’s school years were spent in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and back to San Antonio, where Marge was voted “Most Beautiful Girl of Breckenridge High School.”
At the bottom of a listing of McCleskey ancestral chronology beginning late 1700’s is an undated note in Marge’s handwriting: “My mother, Ivy, was 38 when I was born in 1919. I was told my really wonderful, beautiful mother had six miscarriages and she had stillborn girl twins. I’m sure she wasn’t supposed to have me, but I am so grateful I knew her. She set my feet on a path that has forever sustained me.”
Ivy died of leukemia when Marge was 13 and Walter died of heart disease when Marge was 16, leaving Marge on her own at an early age with the help of extended family and many friends. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In 1939, Marge married Donald K. Bennett from Corvallis, Ore., who was stationed at the SAC base in San Antonio as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps. They had a child, Donald K. Bennett Jr., born in March 1943 in San Angelo. Bennett was shot down later in 1943 returning to England after a bombing raid over Germany during World War II.
Marge lived through her personal tragedies and moved ahead with her infant son Don. She met Bill Walsh from Kalamazoo, Mich., while visiting friends in New York after the war, and they were married in December 1945. Daughter Susan, son Bill and daughter Tad were from that marriage. Marge and Bill divorced in 1960.
Marge’s life changed in summer of 1962 to set the path for the rest of her life when she met Larry Burdick, also of Kalamazoo. Larry had divorced a few years earlier and left the Midwest behind for his new venture in Vail, the Red Lion Inn, already under construction. Larry’s plans of bachelorhood when he designed the Red Lion Inn changed when he married Marge and her four kids got in the car with them to head west.
Marge’s first 20 years in Vail were a story of Marge and Larry. Larry’s boys Mike and John came soon after, and Larry’s son Tim remained in Michigan with his mother. Seven kids in all. Marge and Larry developed enduring friendships with the other wonderful early pioneers of Vail, serving on many local boards and committees as the town and its needs grew. Marge and Larry enjoyed travelling Europe, the Caribbean, and all over the U.S. during the years, including favorite Maui, Hawaii. Marge and Larry divorced in 1980. Larry moved to Maui, and Marge remained in Vail for the following 25 years and further established her trademark style of grace and Southern-influenced manner. Marge operated MSB Designs, a personal interior design service, from 1980 to 2000. She served on several committees and boards. Throughout the years, Marge always made herself available to help people.
Susan Milhoan recalls for many years Marge’s love and passion was music. Bringing the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and other jazz musicians to Vail was a sojourn that she shared with Larry. But when Marge joined the board of Bravo, an even larger joy and purpose erupted. She was in her element when it came to divining interest among her friends, and she found great excitement in planning fundraisers, soirees and progressive dinner parties. Her personal thank you notes, handwritten in a style reminiscent of the long lost art of letter writing, were treasures.
Marge loved Vail and all it offered. She enjoyed Bravo concerts, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Vail Summer Dance, Vilar Performing Arts Center series, etc. Marge enjoyed her religious and church life and friends and was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, at the Vail Interfaith Chapel, serving on various committees. Ever social, Marge’s friends never knew her to miss a party, no matter how full her schedule. Most of all, Marge enjoyed and treasured her lasting friendships with her friends in Vail, people she met travelling, and also old and new friends who visited Vail repeatedly over the years.
Marge was preceded in death by her son Don and step-son Tim. She is survived by daughter Susan Lynch of Houston, son Bill Walsh of Edwards, step-son Mike Burdick of Montrose, step-son John Burdick of Boulder, daughter Tad Tannery of Layton, Utah, granddaughter Kate McFee of Denver, grandson Barnaby Walsh of Palo Alto, Calif., and granddaughter Genevieve Chabot of Bozeman, Mont.
Memorial services will be held by the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration at the Vail Interfaith Chapel on at 11 a.m. July 8. Donations may be made in Marge’s memory to Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, 2271 N Frontage Road, Suite C, Vail CO 81657.
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