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Elisabeth Burgess, Wife of Former Arts and Letters Dean Charles O. Burgess, Dies

By Noell Saunders

Elisabeth Lacy Chambers Burgess, the wife of Charles O. Burgess, the former provost and dean of the College of Arts and Letters of Old Dominion University, died June 11. She was 80.

Burgess wore many hats in her lifetime, just as her husband did at the University.

She was a graduate of the Graham School and Sweet Briar College. She worked as a news reporter for The Ledger-Star in Norfolk, a bank manager for First Virginia Bank (now BB&T), a business manager and executive director for Early Works (now Children's Harbor) and a part-time tax preparer after retirement.

The Charles O. and Elisabeth C. Burgess Award for Faculty Research and Creativity is given each year by ODU's College of Arts and Letters to a full-time faculty member. The award recognizes consistent high-quality achievement in scholarly or artistic endeavors over a period of years.

"It's appropriate that the College of Arts and Letters' Faculty Research and Creativity Award is named after both Liz and Chuck," said Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick. "Liz maintained a rich life outside the University, with a variety of jobs and her passion for local theater. But she was a loyal supporter of Old Dominion and a fixture at University events, attending many even when her husband couldn't. The University extends its sympathies to Chuck and his family."

Burgess was active in theater most of her adult life. She was one of the co-founders of the Norfolk Theater Center, the parent of what is now the Virginia Stage Company, and for many years served as a board member of the Generic Theater. She was also a member of the Monday Club, the Great Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach.

"All of us in the College of Arts and Letters are deeply saddened to learn of Elisabeth Burgess's passing," said Dana Heller, interim dean of the college. "Her legacy will live on in our commitment to fostering and recognizing the highest achievements in scholarship and creativity."

Burgess is survived by her husband; daughter, Elisabeth Owen Burgess; son, Charles Lenoir Burgess; one grandchild, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial was held on June 16 at the Norfolk Chapel of H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lenoir Chambers Scholarship at Norfolk Academy or the Harbor's Edge Foundation.

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