Marilyn Burgess

Marilyn Helen Burgess

Thursday, March 27th, 1930 - Friday, October 11th, 2019
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Marilyn Helen Burgess, 89, passed away peacefully in her home on October 11, 2019. Marilyn was borne in Brooklyn, NY to the late Jesse Lee Burgess, Sr and Evelyn Puhl Burgess, she moved frequently while growing up, living in almost every US state except for Alaska and Hawaii. The family ultimately moved and settled in South Norfolk. She attended South Norfolk High School. As a South Norfolk basketball player in the late 1940’s, she played an instrumental role in her team’s four-year undefeated record. Equally important, she showed people that women could indeed play ball. She officiated basketball for 28 years, often donating her time and forgoing her pay if she felt that it would benefit women’s athletics. Marilyn also played softball. She was an All-Star catcher when fast pitch was the “only game in town.” Marilyn remained active in sports for more than 30 years, particularly basketball and softball. Those of us that remember her playing years, recall the composure and talent that she displayed across many home plates in Virginia. This country is a better place today for female athletes everywhere because of Marilyn Burgess. In 1958, a back injury cut short her playing career short, but she immediately turned to coaching and, ultimately, became the coach of the Virginia Beach Traveler’s. She won and lost championships. She witnessed the glory along with the bitter tears. Win or lose, Marilyn certainly spent her life in the “Arena”. She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame for softball. Marilyn was a lifelong friend and mentor to many young women. She taught many life lessons to these women. Marilyn did so from the bottom of her heart not expecting anything in return. She loved sports. Some of her favorite teams were the Boston Celtics, Notre Dame, Washington Redskins, and the NY Yankees.

Marilyn had a long and successful career with US Gypsum working in the accounting department. She was a dedicated member of South Norfolk Baptist Church giving her time and money showing her strong faith and love of God.

The day the Lord called Marilyn home, she was greeted by two of her closest friends, Annie Greico and Brenda Onley, each of whom held a place in her heart. She is preceded in death by her older brother, Jesse Lee Burgess, Jr. She is survived by a sister, Betty Burgess Abbott as well as many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews as well as some great great nieces and nephews and her special friend, Joyce Isbel. She knew many individuals that were blessed to be called her friends. She received her care in the last several years by a very special lady, Patricia Fitchett, who quickly became a “member” of the family and whom considered Marilyn to be like a “grandmother” to her.

A service to celebrate her life will be held Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 2 p.m. at Graham Funeral Home, 1112 Kempsville Road, Chesapeake with Chaplain James Ravenell officiating. Following the service everyone is invited to remain for a reception at the funeral home. She will be laid to rest at Riverside Memorial Park, Norfolk. Please visit to view the service and to leave a note of condolence.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | 2:00pm
    Sunday, October 20th, 2019 2:00pm
    Graham Funeral Home
    1112 Kempsville Road
    Chesapeake, VA 23320
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Riverside Memorial Park
    1000 Indian River Road
    Norfolk, Virginia 23523
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Reception

    Graham Funeral Home
    1112 Kempsville Road
    CHESAPEAKE, VA 23320
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    All are welcome to attend a reception which will follow immediately after the service.


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Brenda Jones

Posted at 01:23am
Thoughts and Prayers are with your family! We were neighbors of Marilyn for many years. She was a Great lady.
The Ackerman Family

Stephanie Farrow

Posted at 10:05am
I got to know Miss. Marilyn threw the US Gypsum plant and she also was my Sunday school teacher. She was a amazing woman always smiling and warming everyones hearts.

Debra Smith

Posted at 07:19pm
Our family is sad to hear of Marilyn's passing. She was an awesome woman. She and Ms. Ann worked with the awana's team and loved each and everyone of the kids. She was well lived by our family. So glad that she will be in heaven with our Lord. Goodbye Ms. Marilyn you will be missed.

Patricia Nicholas Posted at 07:44pm

I always appreciated Marilyn's abilities and status in women's sports. I am from South Norfolk and had a front row seat to her talent, skill and leadership in the women's sports arena. However, my more personal relationship with Marilyn came through her support and mentoring in Bethel 12 of Job's Daughters . As a leadership position and recorder in that setting she supported and mentored me as I may my way through the line to Honored Queen. I credit this experience as providing a strong foundation for my professional development later in life. With Marilyn's passing it is an end of a special time for women's sports and South Norfolk. Thanks, my friend. It is very strange that I actually had a dream about you last night in the Job's Daughter's setting. You will never be forgotten. Peace .... Patricia Nicholas

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