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 www.grahamfuneralhome.com to view the service and to leave a note of condolence.