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Olive Oresta BURCH

Olive Oresta BURCH

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Olive Oresta BURCH

BURCH - Olive Oresta (nee Lightfoot) 8 May 1921 to 17 February 2021. Olive Oresta (nee Lightfoot) Burch, died on February 17, 2021 at Elderwood Lancaster Skilled Nursing Facility. After testing positive for Covid-19 in early January she had been in recovery. But the Covid-19 induced fatigued was too much for her body. Born on May 8, 1921, at the tail end of the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic, Olive was 99 years old. Born in a farmhouse in Caton, New York, Olive grew up with two brothers, Whiting and Richard, and her sister Elizabeth. Her father, James Tindell Lightfoot, supported his family as a workman on the New York Central Railroad and as a subsistence farmer, providing all the food for the family. Her mother Mary Eliza Lightfoot's career as a schoolteacher provided the cash income that carried the family through the Great Depression. The farm that was home to Olive was rustic even by pre-World War II standards; no electricity, phone or radio, light was by kerosene lantern, and cooking was done on a cast iron woodstove. Despite tough living conditions, Olive remembered her childhood as a very happy time, working with her father in the barn or driving a horse drawn hay wagon in the fields. Olive thrived on the outdoor life and the joy of working with animals, especially horses. Olive attended a one-room rural schoolhouse, where for several years the teacher was her own mother. The Lightfoot home was full of learning; Olive and her brothers and sister were all encouraged to educate themselves through books, newspapers, and talk of current events. Olive achieved a Regents Scholarship at Painted Post High School, making it possible for her to enroll at the Buffalo State Teachers College, Class of 1944. At the time education options for women were limited. Olive enrolled to become a Home Economics Teacher because in her words, "It was the closest degree to Science a woman could receive at the time". As a woman she could not sign up for science classes directly; she had to interview with each professor to gain their permission. Persisting by this process Olive took every math and science course that she could. Very often she was the only woman in a classroom full of men. Olive supported herself during college working the second shift at the Tonawanda Chevrolet Engine Plant. At the time the Engine Plant was building aircraft engines for the war effort. Olive's job was to conduct horsepower performance tests on the completed engines. She was a true "Rosie the Riveter"! Olive loved her time at Buffalo State Teachers College, gaining three life-long friends that she corresponded with until Olive was the last survivor. In 2016 at the age of 96 Olive attended her 72nd alumni reunion! Upon graduation from college, Olive worked as a chemistry laboratory technician at the Linde Corporation in Tonawanda, NY from 1944 to 1951. Her work included creating synthetic ruby glass used in early laser light experiments. While at Linde Olive met her future husband, William Burch, a metallurgical engineer. Olive and William were married on September 3, 1948; the beginning of a joyful 72-year marriage. Olive and William became members of Central Park Methodist Church in Buffalo and later joined Trinity United Methodist Church on Grand Island in the early 1960s. Olive was active in the Trinity Women's Circle for many years, often as the group's president. Olive represented Trinity Church at many Methodist conferences. A long-time member of the Niagara Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Olive enjoyed many friendships and supporting the mission work of the DAR. Olive shared her keen interest in current events with her many nieces, her daughters-law, and her two granddaughters by mailing them letters with newspaper articles that showed examples of women contributing to the world. Olive and William enjoyed many travel adventures, visiting cherished family in Colorado or Corning, NY, the many birdwatching trips, and in later years Elder Hostel trips to the islands of Maine. Olive expressed her love by her constant warm smile and by patiently listening before offering words of comfort. In December 2020, after the loss of her husband in May 2020 and after months of Covid-19 induced isolation at an assisted living facility, she was asked how she felt. Olive answered, "Joyful!". On February 17, 2021, unable to have visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions, at the moment Olive passed away she was holding photos of her cherished great-granddaughter, Oresta Burch-Septer. Olive was pre-deceased by her husband, William, who died of Covid-19 on May 11, 2020. Olive is survived by her three sons Charles, Lawrence (Joan) and Roger (Deborah); two granddaughters Kelsey (Ronald) Reynolds and Colleen (Jonathan) Septer and one great granddaughter, Oresta Burch-Septer; her sisters-in-law Ernestine (Frank) Burch and Mary (Richard) Lightfoot and many cherished nieces and nephews. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations in memory of Olive Burch may be made to the Western New York Land Conservancy, P.O. Box 471, East Aurora, N.Y., 14952 or

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