Blanche M. Burkhart, a long-time member at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church who helped organize the church’s annual summer festival and took communion to home-bound parishioners, died Sunday in Perrysburg Commons Retirement Center. She was 87.
Her son, John Burkhart, said she died from congestive heart failure and other complications. She and her husband of 65 years, John Burkhart, moved from West Toledo to the assisted living center in April, 2011.
Mr. Burkhart, who is a retired attorney, was Toledo law director from 1965 to 1980.
The couple joined St. Catherine of Siena Church in 1959 when they moved into the neighborhood. Their son said they became active in the parish on North Haven Avenue near Eleanor Avenue.
“Even though they lived in Perrysburg they were still considered members of the church,” their son said.
Mrs. Burkhart belonged to the parish’s Marian Society, a group in the Catholic church dedicated to the honor of Mary’s immaculate conception. Mr. Burkhart said she helped with outreach to parishioners who were unable to attend mass by bringing communion to them in their homes.
She also was instrumental in planning and organizing the church’s annual three-day festival in September. Among her responsibilities was gathering items that were sold at the boutique. Her son said she went to garage sales and bought things that nobody else wanted, but she managed to dress them up for resale.
“She was very inventive that way,” he said.
The daughter of Marcus and Agnes Page, she grew up in East Toledo and graduated in 1942 from Waite High School. She met her future husband at a CYO dance. Mr. Burkhart. a World War II veteran, had just returned from serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.
After they were married on June 7, 1947 the Burkharts moved to Ada, Ohio, where Mr. Burkhart attended law school at Ohio Northern University. She worked at the Wilson Sporting Goods factory making baseball gloves, and later took a job at a department store in Lima, Ohio.
Mrs. Burkhart would later work in sales at the former Hudson’s in what is now called Westfield Franklin Park. She was a sales associate and sales manager in the department store’s jewelry and women’s fashion areas from 1976 to 1984.
“She loved it,” her son said. “It was kind of her way of connecting back to working in the department store in Lima. She loved working with customers and she loved working with people.”
Mr. Burkhart said she belonged to the auxiliary of the Toledo Bar Association. As a member, she directed tours of the Lucas County Courthouse for high school and grade school students from 1972 to 1980.
Surviving are her husband, John; daughter, Kathleen Coy; sons, Patrick, John, and Michael Burkhart; sisters, Fran Ammann, Patricia Aldrich, and Veronica Kamps; 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home, Northpointe, where the Rosary will be recited by members of the Marian Society at 4 p.m.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Catherine of Siena Church.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
- Mark Reiter