Rachel Wood Burton (née Greaves) died peacefully on January 22, 2014 at the age of eighty-six. Rachel was for fifty-five years the loving wife of Dr. Peter Burton.
She was born and raised in Barbados where her father was a country doctor. He died in 1944 of Parkinson’s Disease when his three children were teenagers. In 1946 her Canadian mother moved the family to England where Rachel attended Roedean School in East Sussex. In 1949, she moved with her mother to Ottawa to be near her aged grandfather, Archdeacon Johnston Snowdon, later returning to England to study to become a Froebel kindergarten teacher. She then worked as a teacher in London, each morning crossing paths and greeting T.S. Eliot who was on his way to work in the opposite direction. There she met Peter who was working as a junior physician in Harley Street. They were married at St. Michael’s, Chester Square in 1954. The next year they moved together to Ottawa where they raised two sons. In 1968 she began to work for the Ottawa School Board, first as kindergarten teacher and then as school principal in English and French immersion schools, among them Queen Elizabeth, McHugh, and Riverview Alternative, until her retirement in 1991 when she became active volunteering at the National Gallery and the Ottawa and Rockcliffe Garden Clubs.
She was a gracious person and a loyal friend. An engaging conversationalist, she would occasionally share wry stories of her brushes with the great and good. (She once lent a pair of pantyhose to Jackie Kennedy; ate Charles De Gaulle’s dinner after he was disinvited to Government House following his ‘Vive le Quebec Libre!’ speech; and, as a young woman, was amused to be chatted up at a party by the elderly Maurice Duplessis.)
She was a Christian of quiet conviction who loved children, swimming, reading, bridge, travel, and flowers, but above all her family and friends by whom she was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.
She was predeceased by her husband Peter Michael Burton; her parents Francis Wood Greaves and Mary Cochrane Snowdon. She is survived by sons Prof. Charles (St. Catharines, Ontario) and Bishop Anthony (Dallas, Texas); daughters-in-law Mary and Anna; grandchildren Lucy, Caroline, Peter, and Geoffrey; brothers Dr. Patrick Greaves and Dr. Kevin (Christina) Greaves; and special friends Margaret Magee, Susan Valentine, Christine McLaughlin, and Marlise Hoepfner.
The family would like to express its heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence, her caregivers from Happy Memories Care, and Dr. David Esdaile.
…when I try to imagine a faultless love,
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.
A Requiem Eucharist will be held at the Church of St. Bartholomew, 125 Mackay St., Ottawa, on Wednesday January 29, 2014 at 11 a.m., the Rev. Canon David Clunie presiding.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Church of St. Bartholomew.