July 9, 1917 - June 28, 2014
Nancilu Butler Burdick, author and longtime English teacher, died Saturday at ElderWood Health Care at Lakewood in Hamburg. She was 96.
Born Nancilu Butler on Glendale Farm, Woodville, Ala., she earned a degree in English from Alfred University in 1939. She received a master’s degree in education from Canisius College and a master’s degree in English literature from University of Buffalo. After graduation, she began her long career in education, teaching English at Orchard Park Middle School and East Aurora High School from 1962 to 1979.
A near-fatal auto accident in 1984 left her bedridden for two months. During that time, she began to learn the art of quilt-making and began studying her grandmother Talula’s autobiography, handwritten when her grandmother was 80 years old.
She became inspired by Talula’s story and was determined to record this important piece of American history. After her recovery, she traveled widely researching Talula’s 200-plus quilts, many of which are national treasures. She began to collect letters, oral histories and other source material for an article in the American Quilt Study Group publication, “Uncoverings” in 1984.
The article led to a book, “Legacy – The Story of Talula Gilbert Bottoms and Her Quilts” published in 1988, about Talula, quilting and survival in the post-Civil War reconstruction era, and a second book, “Family Ties – Old Quilt Patterns From New Cloth” published in 1991.
Mrs. Burdick was selected by Sterling Van Wagenen, co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival and Foundation, to participate in the PBS Series “Ancestors,” which aired March 22, 1997, and a subsequent appearance on AM Buffalo.
A lecturer at numerous quilt symposiums and quilt shows throughout the United States, Mrs. Burdick was a member of the American Quilt Study Group, the Southern Quilt Symposium and Kenan Quilter’s Guild.
She published her third book, “Three Women – Intimate Biographies of Times Past,” about challenges women faced in the post-Civil War south, in 2014.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, Victor A., Kenneth Rankin and Stuart Crosley.
Survivors include two sons, James and Christopher; a daughter, Sandra Cooper; two brothers, Gilbert and Daniel Butler; a sister, Betty Butler-Pearson; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home Inc., 4199 Lake Shore Road at Camp Road, Hamburg.