Scott Propeack remembers Vi Burchfield

Friday, February 24, 2017

Violet P. (Anton) Burchfield – the last living member of the generation that represented Charles and Bertha Burchfield’s children and their spouses – was married to Arthur, the youngest of the Burchfield children passed away this week. She was from Chicago and proud of it, even if she spent most of her life in Poughkeepsie, NY. The only thing greater than the love of her family in Illinois was her love for her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Vi was all in, all Chicagoan, all Burchfield, all mom, all grandma, all great-grandma. It wasn’t just pride; she was consumed with, and emanated, love. Her passion extended to the curiosity she had for all the people that she met. She embodied every positive association we make with the word “grandmother,” with a great smile and twinkle in her eye always, and those of us fortunate enough to have known her basked in her affection and interest.

Vi’s husband, Arthur, was Director of World Trade at IBM – a vital piece of their lives, because it was through this that they met and became friends with people from all over the world. Colleagues came to work and live in the US and Vi took them in, serving as ambassador and host to each family. For every holiday, they had places at the Burchfield table. This was never reflected on as a task, but a joy. The excitement and activities in the lives of their guests was present in every story that she had about them. Her tales of dancing, eating, drinking, and singing were remembered and expressed with the magical discovery that most people forget how to appreciate by the time they reach adolescence. She had discovered something: She could be aware of the difficulties in life, while being sure to enjoy that she was alive.

What Charles Burchfield wrote in his journals in 1953, when he first met Violet, could be said by anyone lucky enough to have known her, “We liked her at once.”