Former Jackson resident Jill Burger, age 86, died peacefully in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 11, surrounded by family. She was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Al Burger.
Born in Dayton, Ohio to Ross and Dorothy Shock, Jill was the only child of parents who scrapped through setbacks during the Great Depression. As a second grader, she was introduced to the piano at school and practiced faithfully on a cardboard keyboard until her parents made many sacrifices to buy a piano and provide private lessons for her. Jill became an accomplished and lifelong keyboard player and shared her love of show tunes, Christmas carols and popular music with her family and friends. Her daughters and every grandchild hold special memories of sitting on her lap while she tinkled out classic nursery rhyme tunes.
Jill met the love of her life when she and Al were high school seniors. They married the summer before Al’s senior year at OSU when they were 20 and 21 and started their family the next year. The Burgers arrived in Jackson in 1971, when Al was named varsity basketball coach at Jackson High School. Jill was a busy mother to two daughters, a loyal fan of the Ironmen, a faithful parishioner and CCD teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and a member of the Junior Women’s League of Jackson, where she made lifelong friends and enjoyed the tradition of making and selling fudge at the Apple Festival booth.
As her girls grew older, Jill took the brave and unusual step of completing her education. At a time when few midlife adults were on campus, she followed her dream of becoming a teacher and, as her eldest left for college, enrolled at Rio Grande University. She graduated in 1976 at age 41. She went on to a satisfying career as an educator in the Oak Hill School District, first as a kindergarten and third grade classroom teacher and then as a reading specialist. Jill was especially gratified when her one-on-one work with children helped lift them to reading at grade level, known as a crucial marker for future academic success.
In retirement, the Burgers became active and energetic board members of the Southern Hills Arts Council and enthusiastic boosters of the revival of the Markay Theatre. While they always considered Jackson to be their hometown, after retiring, Jill and Al moved to Florida in 2004. Jill became a eucharistic minister at the Cathedral of St. Augustine, where the Burgers were members. They enjoyed travel, the beach, playing bridge and spending time with friends and family, especially their grandchildren.
Jill is survived by daughter Kevyn of Minneapolis and daughter Marjorie/Mollie Irazuzta; son-in-law, Jose Irazuzta of Jacksonville, Florida; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, including five-year-old Jillian, who was named in her honor.
Jill’s life will be celebrated at a funeral Mass on Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. At a later date, the Burger family will schedule a graveside service for Al and Jill at the family cemetery in Dayton, Ohio. Memorial donations can be directed to the Southern Hills Arts Council at paypal.me/markayjackson, or at its address at P.O. Box 149, Jackson, OH 45640.