In Memory of



Obituary for MaryEllen Burch

MaryEllen Burch (Hillanbrand) [nee Mann], Beloved Wife, Mother and Grammy, began her eternal life on Saturday July 16th just shy of the 83rd anniversary of her earthly life. MaryEllen (MeMe) was preceded in death by her parents, Ward and Laura Mann, her sister Jean Byrnes and brothers Frank, Larry, and John (Butch), her 1st husband Mike Hillanbrand and beloved grandchild TracieLynn Hillanbrand. MaryEllen is survived by her husband John M. Burch, her sister Dorothy O’Donnell, sons Michael (Deborah nee Kolb), Scott (Mary nee Wolinski), and Stephen (Detral nee Rachal), daughters Laura Jean Viola (Jay [deceased]), Karen Prendes (Gregory [deceased]), Susan Fabrizio (Lisa Schweizer), Joanne Wagner (Robert), Andrea, her step children John M Burch III and Barbara Conicello, 29 grandchildren, 29 Great grandchildren and 2 Great-great grandchildren.

MaryEllen was a strong, independent woman before it was trendy to be so. As a single mother of 6, she became a Nurse at 40. Even in her working life, Mom changed lives every single day; as an ER nurse at Einstein, Nurse and supervisor extraordinaire at SPIN, Inc., and a few other stints until she retired and volunteered at St Mary’s working with children with autism. A proud Blue Star mother, MeMe raised 5 children who served in the military and 2 military spouses (2 kids were service members AND military spouses!) During multiple deployments, Grammy routinely provided a home away from home for the families of her service members. Despite having more than 60 progeny, she welcomed anyone at any time! It was never just immediate family. She could feed an army with a can of spam. And you could read the paper through a slice of cake!

MaryEllen was an avid game player, passing on her love of board games to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She was the Scrabble and Trivia queen and would ONLY use a pen for her daily crosswords. Mom loved to dance and her and Jack would clear the dance floor, into their 70’s whenever they cut a rug.

Mom worked tirelessly to give her children a full life. On Friday nights, she packed up the crew with a tent and supplies in tow and made multiple campgrounds a temporary home. But her love for camping and traveling truly blossomed after her marriage to Jack. They spent decades roaming around the country in a succession of campers, usually with kids or friends in tow. Upon retirement, they took to the road, and made a home in many driveways of families and friends. After several years, they settled down in Boyce, Louisiana where they were essentially adopted into the Rachal family.
Recently, Grammy and Grandpa Jack moved back to Pennsylvania to be close to family. Mom spent the past few months spending quality time with loved ones.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am.” John 14:3