Marie Burnette Powers
Published 3:22 pm Thursday, January 4, 2024
Marie Burnette Powers was born March 21, 1927, in Bedford, the only child of Sexton Crawford Burnette, known to all as “Red,” and Ruth Bandy Burnette.
Marie was a product of the Bedford County Public Schools, graduating from Bedford High School, where early on she demonstrated her leadership potential as president of the Torch-Y Girls Club, a civic-minded organization, during her freshman year.
Unlike many young women of her generation, she chose to continue her education after high school. She studied nursing at Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg and at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, proudly earning the right to have the initials “R.N.” after her name.
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After her marriage to Page Powers in 1949 and the birth of her son Bill in 1951,she was employed as a registered nurse at the Elks National Home in Bedford, at that time home to as many as 500 men, and it was also her last. She rose to become head of nursing there and retired after 41 years.
She was devoted to her work, but she definitely was not all work and no play.
She was known for her annual Twelfth Night parties (on Jan. 5, the 12th day of Christmas), where a waiter served her legendary eggnog with its secret ingredient of locally sourced apple brandy from a silver tray. She was an accomplished dancer of the Charleston, which she enthusiastically executed in full flapper regalia in local variety shows. She was on the guest list for just about every social event in her community and had a reputation for being the life of the party.
She loved to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad. One memorable trip included stops in Switzerland and at the von Trapp home (of Sound of Music fame) in Austria.
A lifelong history buff, she also spent her spare time on more serious endeavors.
She was a charter member of the Bedford Historical Society and was instrumental in the successful effort to create the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. She was a 60-year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Peaks of Otter Chapter. When the chapter decided to compile a history of the 143 villages in Bedford County that, at one time, had been large enough to include a post office, Marie volunteered and spent several years researching and assisted writing two of the three volumes published in the late 1990s, entitled Bedford Villages Lost and Found. Following her retirement from the Elks Home, she was a docent at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s country estate and the National D-Day Memorial.
She was a member of Bedford Presbyterian Church and then Bedford Lutheran Church.
She loved all animals and for years helped feed a colony of feral cats in Bedford in addition to supporting the local SPCA.
She lost her husband Page in 1999 after 49 years of marriage. She leaves her son, William Burnette Powers, and her daughter-in-law, Martha Edwards Powers, of Farmville.
Marie was a doting mother when Bill was a boy, getting up early to supervise his turkey and squirrel hunting. When he was a teenager, she tolerated the box of copperheads and rattlesnakes he often left on her back porch, a result of the love for animals he inherited from his mother and extended to the slithering members of the reptile family.
Survivors also include two grandsons: Matthew Burnette Powers and his wife, Emily James Powers, of Chesterfield and John William Powers and his wife, Logan Tyler Powers, of Roanoke and three great-grandchildren, Katherine, Amy and Cole. Finally, she leaves her orange tabby, Bubba, who misses her but is content in his new home.
A private service for family will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Marie’s name may be made to Farmville Presbyterian Church at 200 West Third St., Farmville, VA, 23901 or the Piedmont Area Veterans Council at P.O. Box 872, Farmville, VA, 23901