Vivian Burr was a naturally gifted artist who passed up college scholarships to raise her family.
But she could compete with those more educated than she, and jumped into town politics to make her mark. Burr died Jan. 20 at age 90.
"The town lost her a few short days ago, but we have missed her for a long time," said First Selectman Tim Herbst.
She left the public eye 10 years ago becayse of illness. "We all breathe a sigh of relief that Vivian is no longer in pain," Herbst said. "Today the entire town mourns with you and shares the pain of your loss."
He called her life "incredible," and named her "one of Trumbull's greatest heroes."
Burr was born in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., the oldest of three. She could have gone to college but at that time the eldest was expected to care for family. She married in 1945.
As a parent, she was active in the PTA and in St. Theresa Church, Herbst said. "She loved this church and it was here she learned the importance of giving back to the community."
Her first foray into politics was to fight for the arts in the Trumbull public schools. She "wanted to stand up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves," Herbst said.
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It was Burr who cracked the glass ceiling for women in the workplace, he added. With great tenacity, she moved on to the Town Council, the Republican Town Committee, the Planning and Zoning Commission, Town Clerk and a run for the first selectman's chair.
She also judged the "We the People" contest in which students learn about and debate democracy. Although she had no legal training, she could compete with "the best legal minds," Herbst said.
She personally grilled Herbst when he was in the club at Trumbull High School, and a friendship was formed. She was one of the people who lured Herbst into politics.
As Town Clerk, she made an unpopular but correct decision in a 1998 Senate race, Herbst said, adding that she had a "spine of steel."
Burr also defeated cancer in 1964 and 1986 and "courageously" fought illness for the last 10 years.
"Farewell, my friend, and God bless you," he concluded.
Burr's son and grandson called her "the boss," who firmly guided the family but loved and appreciated all her family. She particularly enjoyed being with her grandchildren.
"My mom was a brilliant woman. She could do anything," said George Burr, her son. "She was always active. I always marveled at how much she could get done."
David, her grandson, thanked everyone who sent their condolences.
"As of Sunday, God's choir sounds a little bit better," he said.
After the mass, Herbst and Probate Judge-elect T.R. Rowe were among the pallbearers.