Grace Burleigh

WAYNE – In the early morning hours of October 13, 2020, Grace Burleigh passed away peacefully in her home in Wayne, Maine. Born June 11, 1919, in Corona, N.Y., she was 101 years young and the holder of the “Wayne Cane”. Grace was a trailblazing woman attending Hunter College at age 16 and graduate school at Cornell University at age 20. She spent her youth and young married years in Westbury and Briarcliff, N.Y., and relished in being a mom, wife and schoolteacher. At age 60, she and her husband Bob moved to spend their retirement years in Wayne. They were married 51 years until his passing in 1992. They had two cherished sons Bruce Burleigh and Keith Burleigh that she is survived by. Family meant everything to Grace. She is survived by ten grandchildren and 18 (and counting!) great-grandchildren.

Grace lived during two pandemics, prohibition and woman’s suffrage. She stood with her father, August Vorpahl, at Roosevelt Field in 1927 to witness Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. She lived through The Great Depression, two World Wars, the founding of McDonald’s, the entire Cold War, black and white TV to having a smart TV and watching Netflix. She lived during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Brown vs. the Board of Education, the invention of the atomic bomb, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, the death of Martin Luther King, Roe vs. Wade, the rise of the personal computer, the birth of the internet, the Maine ice storm of 1998, 9/11 and cell phones. She lived to see all of the New York Yankees World Series, the Red Sox win the World Series and the Patriots dynasty (Bob was a Giants fan). She witnessed America’s first African-American president. She actually lived to see 18 U.S. presidents in her lifetime and voted for the first time for Harry S. Truman much to her father’s dismay. She cast her vote for the 2020 election on Oct. 2nd.

When asked, “What was the most amazing event you ever witnessed in your 101 years?” She always answered, “A man walking on the moon (1969).”

Grace has been described as the “matriarch of Wayne” by the town people. Her 41 years there were filled with a plethora of volunteer work. She was on the Wayne Elementary School Committee and was instrumental in the building of the new school and playground. She was heavily involved in the Wayne Community Church as the Ad Council Chair and raised funding for the parsonage that exists today. She was also part of the Cary Memorial Library renovations and an active member of the Friday Club. She had her hand, head, heart and pocketbook in every aspect that made Wayne beautiful for young and old families. This year she gave the historic “Alice in Wonderland Room” in her house to the library’s Williams House to be preserved and treasured by all forever. She traveled, hiked, biked and cross country skied. She climbed mountains into her late 80s. When her age caught up with her you could find her on her front porch in her leopard robe doing calisthenics waving at passersby. She was interviewed on CNN during the horrific ice storm of 2011 with no power, stoking her wood stove in that same leopard robe. Grace never shied away from giving advice and guidance to all that crossed her path. Those that have crossed it remark that she “changed their life”, “inspired them”, “made them want more out of themselves.” She touched so many in such a positive way. She was sharp as a tack, stubborn, wise, very flirtatious, humble, accepting of our changing world and absolutely bionic. She will be remembered as a favorite by many.

The family would like to thank the exceptional care, friendship and love that the people of Renaissance gave to Grace so fully every day for the past two years. You know who you are. We would also like to thank the massive outpouring of love, memories and food (custard in particular) in her final days and throughout the years from the town people that knew her a year or 40 years. Wayne is a special place. Grace was a special person. We will be sharing our plans to celebrate her life with a ceremony at a future date.

In lieu of flowers Grace has requested that you give to the Cary Memorial Library’s Alice in Wonderland Fund

(P.O. Box 127

Wayne, ME 04284)

or the Wayne

Community Church

(P.O. Box 300

Wayne, ME 04284)

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