The world lost a most kind and loving soul with the passing of Bertha (Berte) Luella Parkin (Burr) on June 22, 2019. Born on June 4, 1923 in New Haven, CT, the 7th of 9 children to Bertha L. and Clarence E. Burr, Berte overcame the Depression and WWII to become the quintessential wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Working after school in a bakery in Meriden, she met the love of her life, Willis Parkin. When Will enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the Pacific theatre, Berte enlisted in the WAVES and got assigned to San Francisco to be as close to him as possible. Upon his return from service in 1945, they immediately married in San Francisco.
Returning to the east coast, Berte raised two children, Joanne and Bruce, while helping Will complete graduate school at UCONN and Penn State. The family moved to follow Will’s dairy management career from Stamford, CT, to Wallingford, CT, to Bellows Falls, VT, and finally to Holliston, MA. Berte was employed in drugstores in Connecticut and as a medical secretary in Vermont and Massachusetts. Finally in 1987, the two of them retired to Palmetto, Florida, where she resided until 2014. She then moved into Whitney Place Assisted Living facility in Northborough, MA until her passing.
Berte is survived by her daughter Joanna Bickford and her husband Stephen of Marlborough, MA; her son Bruce Parkin and his wife Georgianna of Shutesbury MA; sister Annette Vertucci; numerous nieces and nephews; 3 grandchildren, Jennifer Sylvester (husband Jonas), Jamie Bickford (wife Geneva), and Heather Short (husband Phil); and 8 great-grandchildren, Alec Wade, Aaron Landry, David and Aiden Bickford, Zoe and Chase Sylvester, Adam and Kevin Short. Berte was predeceased by her husband Willis (2012), 7 brothers and sisters, and her grandson Jarrad Parkin.
She was called Babe by her siblings to distinguish her from her mother; called Cindy (for Cinderella) by Joanna and Bruce because she did everything and insisted on a neat-as-a-pin house, yet could turn into the belle of the ball; called Bertie by friends because they knew she wasn’t fond of her given name; and Grammy and GG Cindy by the young ones. Whatever they called her, it was out of respect and love because she that’s how she always treated everyone, with love and respect. A kind and gentle soul, she’ll be missed by many.
The family would like to thank the caring aides, nurses, and everyone at Whitney Place and Beaumont Skilled Nursing, especially her tablemate, friend, and fellow renegade, Fran Takala. Also, a special thank you to Granddaughter Heather for taking such good care of her Grammy despite her busy schedule. She was always there to comfort Grammy in her time of need. And, we can’t forget her “adopted daughter”, Mary Comstock of Palmetto, Florida, who watched over her when we couldn’t during the Florida years.
A celebration of Berte’s life will be held at a later date at the family’s convenience.
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