Obituaries

Marilyn Free

Marilyn Otis Free, 84, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Marilyn was a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and former resident of Northern Virginia and Palmyra, Va., before moving to Yorktown in June 2017.  Marilyn was a Realtor for over 30 years in Northern Virginia and Palmyra. She was a member of Effort Baptist Church and helped establish Effort Baptist Food Pantry. Marilyn also volunteered for Meals on Wheels for many years. She was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing with the ladies at Lake Monticello Golf Course.

Marilyn was predeceased by her parents, James W. Otis and Grace Burtis Otis. She is survived by her daughter, Katie Staley (Allan); and her sons, Andy Blanchard (Angela), Don Free (Janet) and David Free (Joyce). She is also survived by her sisters, Barbara Smith and Brenda Harris; five grandchildren, Jason, Ashley, Nick, Mariah and Daniel; two great-grandchildren, Ava and Grayson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Marilyn’s daughter and sons wish to thank The Crossings on the Peninsula and Medi Hospice for their loving and compassionate care.

A memorial and burial service will be held at a later date in Syracuse, N.Y. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the National Parkinson Foundation.

Arrangements are by Amory Funeral Home, Grafton, Va.

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Donna BrownDonna M. Taft Brown, 77, of Lake Monticello, Va., went to be with her Lord and Savior Dec. 18, 2017.

She is preceded in death by her parents; Earl J. and Erma (Barber) Elliott; her brothers, Earl “Bo,” Carl and Ronald Elliott and her sister, Phyllis Elliott.

Donna had a lifelong passion for cooking and was known for her cooking skills. She served many Goochland restaurants and made many dear friends. One place closest to her heart was Dameron’s Store where she retired with a faithful following.

She is survived by her loving husband of 25 years; Robert L. Brown, her sisters; Shirley Ellison and Audrey Manning, both of New York. She leaves a legacy of love behind with her five children; Debra Wilds (Mark) of Goochland, Henry (Bryan) Taft of Richmond, Robert “Bob” Taft of Richmond, Teresa Neal (Paul) of Columbia, and Michael Taft (Ghizlaine) of Charlottesville.

Her life was devoted to her children, her 16 grandchildren and her 24 great-grandchildren of which another blessing is due in May of 2018. A celebration of life was held on Jan. 6, 2018, at Faith Baptist Church, 3394 River Road West, Goochland, Va.; officiated by her grandson, the Rev. Kameron Wilds. Visit www.lacyfh.com for the online guest book.

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altRobert Murray Perce, Jr., aged 80, of Lake Monticello, passed away Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, from cancer of an unknown primary.  

Bob was born in Oak Park, Ill., on Aug. 9, 1937. He got his undergraduate degree in history and English with honors at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in 1959. He then became a commissioned officer in the United States Navy and served in Morocco and Newport, R.I., until 1963. After completing his military service, Bob attended the University of Virginia Law School and graduated with an LL.B., again with honors, in 1966. Thus began a 27-year career in corporate and general practice of law, the last 10 years of which he was general counsel to two corporations engaged in the international trading and transport of petrochemicals and in offshore drilling investments.

Bob was a man of extraordinary intellect, creativity, and curiosity – taking great pleasure in both the physical world around him and the life of the mind. A devoted husband and father, he was a legend to his children for reading novels aloud during family vacations, devising epic Halloween costumes, and his favorite phrase: “Everyone needs a weird father.” He loved the performing arts and maintained lifelong involvement in theater as both an actor and director, and founded two community theater groups, including the Reston Players in Reston, Va. He was also an avid traveler and tennis player.

While still working full-time as a lawyer, he pursued a degree in theology. He completed two years of study at New York Theological Seminary in 1980-81 and additional coursework at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1982, Rice University in 1984, and the Houston Graduate School of Theology in 1986-87. He taught a number of theology, history and Biblical studies courses over the years wherever he and his family were residing. In 1993 Bob left the practice of law to become a teacher at the White Mountain School in Bethlehem, N.H. For the next nine years, he shared his knowledge, wisdom and love of life with the students there as a teacher, athletic coach, theater director, and dorm parent.

In 2002 he suffered a serious stroke. Unable to continue working, he and his wife Pat left the school and moved to Lake Monticello, Va., where they remained to the present day. Though Bob’s ability to pursue many of his passions was limited after his stroke, he and Pat continued to enjoy music together, singing with the Fluvanna Community Singers for the past 10 years.

He is survived by his wife Pat; six children; and eight grandchildren. 

He will be remembered at a memorial ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 3 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Simeon, located at 1333 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Va.

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George BurnettGeorge William Burnett, of Lake Monticello, Va., died at home Nov. 29, 2017, surrounded by family. Amongst the last things George said were, “It’s good to be home.” He then softly sang, “I only have eyes for you.” He had a smile on his face.

George was the youngest son of William and Margaret Sullivan Burnett. He is survived by his wife Florann, son William George and his wife Renee, daughter Cheryl Ann Hoffman and her husband Thomas, and son Dennis Patrick Burnett and his wife Monica.

Grandchildren are Caisey Rose Hoffman, Monica Burnett Castellano and husband Jeffrey, Crystina Burnett Watkins and husband Jeffrey, Dennis William Burnett, and Tyler Burnett; great-granddaughters Eloise Aria Castellano and Juniper Willa Castellano; first cousin Karen Sneed and her husband Johnny; and godchildren Janice Zappala and Cheryl Ann Piggot.

George was born in Jersey City, N.J. in 1937. He grew up in Bayonne, N.J., where he graduated from Bayonne High School. During his career, he became a master electrician and managed his brother’s company, Burnett Electric.

He worked there for 37 years as both supervisor and foreman.

George was a charitable, loving man. He was a member and Worshipful Master of Peninsula Lodge #99, and president of the Masonic Temple Board in Bayonne, N.J. for many years. Most recently, he was treasurer of the Cabell Masonic Lodge in Kents Store, Va. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

George loved ice cream, golfing, fishing, hunting, boating, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren…and Florann. We will miss him greatly.

We celebrated George’s life at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 4309 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Palmyra, Va. The family received friends at 10 a.m. before the service. A reception followed the service.

Friends are welcome to visit at Florann and George’s home.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Meals on Wheels, Caring for Creatures, or your own favorite charity, in memory of George.

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Blair SuberRalph Blair Surber on Nov. 24, 2017, ended his battle with cancer and died at his Palmyra home with his wife by his side. He was preceded in death by his father, Ralph Blair Surber, Sr. He is survived by his mother, Mary Dixon Surber; his wife, Judith “Judy” Joy Surber; daughter, Joy Walczak Byington of Michigan; son, Greg Blair Surber of Texas; five grandchildren, Jacob, Ellen, Samuel and Megan Walczak and Keith Surber; and three great-grandchildren, Terrallyn Surber and Declan and Roman Walczak.

Blair was born in Burlington, Iowa on Dec. 11, 1938. He excelled in his career in the purebred cattle industry and upon retirement excelled in the sport of trapshooting. The family wishes to thank his cattle and trapshooting buddies who continued to keep in touch with him until the end.

In accordance with Blair’s request, friends and family will be invited to a special gathering given by Judy at a future date. He believed in the pursuit of our personal responsibility of citizenship and felt strongly about supporting the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution State Regent’s Project. This project underwrites a conference room in the newly built Center for the Constitution at Montpelier, the lifelong home of James Madison. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: State Treasurer, Virginia DAR, 1814 Pocahontas Street, Lynchburg, Va., 24501-4416.

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