Burrows devoted life to family, others

Published 11:38 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

The remains of the holiday are slowly fading. Decorations, necessities and tree trimming items have been pushed over to shelves marked “clearance” and now heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are taking their place.

Maxine and Jim Burrows

For those who think it might be a little early for Valentine’s Day or for those who may not welcome the holiday at all, the story of one Niles couple may just melt the icicles of cynicism right off the heart.

When Jim Burrows talks about his wife, Maxine, his words are kind and loving, as is well to be expected by any husband, but humble. As if aware of what could be considered marital bias.

“She was a real caring person,” Burrows said. “She was always wanting to help out people, especially around the holidays.”

Maxine died shortly before the holiday season, on Dec. 2, following an extended illness.

Burrows said his wife would donate food to food pantries and took part in a knitting group making sweaters for children in need in Third World countries.

She was famous for baked beans at potluck dinners, which she was always willing to contribute to.

But it is the way Jim and Maxine loved each other that is an even bigger story, said Ray Fulbright, pastor/outreach coordinator of the First Presbyterian Church in Niles.

James H. Burrows Sr. and Maxine Figg were married 62 years ago, on June 6, 1948 in Niles at the church where they remained devoted members.

Their faith is just one example of a marriage rooted in devotion.

“They’ve been very devoted to the church, both of them,” Fulbright said. In recent times, Maxine’s health had stopped her from being able to travel to the church for services. So the Burrows set up a sanctuary in their own home, holding service every Sunday, listening to the First Presbyterian Church broadcast over the radio.

“They were from a different generation,” Fulbright said of the couple. “He was the husband and the provider. She was the mother and raised the children.

“Jim was reluctant to leave her side,” he added.

Over the years, Burrows would spend time in the early mornings, sitting down at Martin’s Super Market and taking part in lively discussions with friends.

He would get there early, Fulbright said, “but he was always the first one to leave because he had to go home and check on Maxine.

“The all-American family from the 1950s and 1960s, that’s what they were,” he said.

“Their marriage was a total marriage,” Fulbright said. “A total commitment. (Burrows) was surrounded by a good spouse and they both centered their life on faith.”

And for Burrows, the legacy of the love of his life seems fully intact and not likely to fade any time soon.

“She was a class act,” said Fulbright.

“A lot of people called her a little angel,” Burrows said. “Everyone loved her who knew her.”