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QUICK OF WIT:  Lynn Burtness's love and nurturing extended beyond her family to the many groups and organizations she took part in.

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QUICK OF WIT: Lynn Burtness's love and nurturing extended beyond her family to the many groups and organizations she took part in.


Lynn T. Burtness: 1938 – 2014

Heart of Gold


Lynn Burtness was many things, but first and foremost, she was a loving and nurturing wife, mother, and grandmother. Mom was busier with all her activities and organizations than my sister or I could ever be with full-time jobs.

Mom came to Santa Barbara on vacations with her family for many summers, staying at the cottages at the Miramar Hotel. They finally relocated here permanently when she was 14. She attended La Cumbre Junior High School, Santa Barbara High School (Class of 1956), and UCSB (Class of 1960), where she was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority.

At a Rainbow Girl function, Mom was introduced to her true love, Bob number one (Bob Alderman), by her lifelong friend Linda Alderman not long after she arrived in Santa Barbara. Linda’s brother got one look at Mom and bugged his sister for an introduction. The rest was history, as they say, and they were married after she graduated from UCSB.

Though her teaching career in home economics at Santa Barbara Junior High School was cut short by my arrival in 1963, and then by my sister, Laurie, in 1966, her love of sewing continued her entire life. She labored lovingly over countless Halloween costumes, party dresses, and, most famously, the Fiesta flower girl skirts (10 years’ worth for each of us). Instead of making a new skirt each year, she would add a “layer” beautifully embellished with sequins, ribbons, and the like. We were the envy of all the other girls. This tradition started all over again when my daughter Joslin became the youngest flower girl ever at the age of 5, and continued on for yet another 10 years. These skirts are among our most prized possessions.

Even though Mom was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in 1971 and lost her husband to cancer in 1978, she never let this debilitating disease or catastrophic loss get in the way of her fierce commitment to her family. She persevered through thick and thin with the support of family, friends, and a spirit and strength that were something to be reckoned with. She even came out of retirement for a short period to teach a sewing class at Marymount, where my sister and I attended school. My friends still comment on the wraparound skirts that we all made.

True love Bob number two (Bob Burtness) came into her life in the late ‘80s. They had known each other since La Cumbre Junior High and Santa Barbara High School, where they played in the orchestra and band together, but they were reacquainted through various mutual groups and, of course, the SBHS reunions. They were married in 1991 and enjoyed 23 years of marriage. They never stopped … SBHS Alumni Association, Cottage Hospital Foundation, wood refinishing, Antique Car Club, various historical societies, and Eastern Star were among some of the activities and groups that they were involved with.

Mom was diagnosed with, and beat, breast cancer in 1999, and she lived a relatively healthy life until her leukemia diagnosis in 2013. No matter what the circumstances, her quick wit never failed her, and she had the ability to make anyone laugh and everyone feel welcome. After completing her round of chemo and losing all of her hair, she announced that her husband would be very pleased at the savings they would have from not going to her weekly hair appointments! She also cutely “thumbed her nose” at the nurses the day she left Cottage Hospital for Serenity House. As committed as she was to her family, she was equally committed to her pets, and even in the midst of her chemo-induced nausea, nicely reminded her husband as he left the hospital to “pet the cat.”

In no particular order, she was past presidents of both the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club and the Santa Barbara High School Alumni Association and worthy matron and deputy grand matron of the Order of the Eastern Star.

She was preceded in death by her father, Paul T. Hammock; mother, Cora E. Hammock; first husband, Bob Alderman; grandson, Zachary Bunnell; and step-grandson Christopher Zahuta. She is survived by her husband, Bob Burtness; daughters Janet Alderman Zahuta (Bob) and Laurie Alderman Bunnell (Doug); granddaughters Joslin Alderman and Zoe Bunnell; step-grandson Matt Zahuta; stepdaughter, Shenandoah Marr; sister-in-law Linda Alderman; and brothers-in-law George and Bill Burtness.

We cannot thank the Oncology Department at Cottage Hospital enough for the efforts and loving care given to Mom, with special thanks to Dr. Julie Taguchi and Nurse Practitioner Hangama Abassi, and RN Diane Johnson for their insight and special friendship.

A celebration of her life will take place at El Montecito Presbyterian Church on Thursday, January 15 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Santa Barbara High School Alumni Association or the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club endowment fund.

She fought valiantly and never gave up. Her body gave in, but she never did.

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