Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 11, 2013

Merra Lee Burden


TRAVERSE CITY — Merra Lee Burden, 73, of Traverse City, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at Munson Medical Center, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer.

Merra Lee was born Aug. 1, 1939, in Traverse City, the daughter of Martin "Pooda" Fouts and Theta (Craker) Fouts, who both preceded her in death. On Dec. 14, 1975, she married Ross (Pat) Burden, who survives.

She retired in 2009 from Munson Medical Center, where she worked for 31 years in various departments doing data entry and data auditing work. Prior to that, she worked for the Interlochen Center for the Arts in the business office.

Merra Lee met Pat after his first rehearsal with the Northwestern Michigan Symphony Orchestra, in which she was a longtime viola player. Three months later they married.

Merra Lee loved music and in her younger years delighted people with her beautiful singing voice. She graduated in 1956 from Traverse City Central High School and attended the University of Michigan School of Music, where she performed with the university's symphony orchestra.

An animal lover, Merra Lee enjoyed dogs and her cat, Tess, and loved feeding peanuts to the squirrels and birds from her deck overlooking the woods.

She enjoyed reading mysteries and attending Opera Grand Rapids performances with her husband, recently seeing her favorite, "Samson & Delilah" by Saint-Saens.

Merra Lee particularly loved Omena, where she visited her grandparents during the summers as a child and later spent time at her parents' cottage on Ingalls Bay.

She also leaves her daughter, Melissa Burden; and grandson, Elliott Shea, both of Royal Oak. Elliott held a special spot in her heart.

Visitation will be held today, Jan. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 1 p.m., also at Martinson Funeral Home. The Rev. Fred Milligan will preside.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Cherryland Humane Society, 1750 Ahlberg Road, Traverse City, MI 49686.

Please share thoughts and memories with Merra Lee's family on their online guestbook at

Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay.