Dorothy Ann Burggraf, 81, of Granger, was born Dorothy Ann Roberts on July 11, 1938 to Conrad and Thelma Roberts in Mishawaka. Dorothy was one of nine children: brothers Conrad, John and Don who predeceased her and Bernard, Joseph, Thomas and Paul, and a sister Mary Davis who survive. Dorothy attended St. Monica Catholic School in Mishawaka and graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend in 1956. In 1957 she was married to Norman L. Burggraf in St. Monica Catholic Church and he predeceased her in 2001. She and Norm had three children, Norman, Jr. (Jeanne), Douglas (Peggy) and James who all survive. In 1958, shortly after Norman Jr.’s birth, Dorothy and Norm moved to a tiny block house on a 2-acre sandbur covered lot on Ash Road where they lived until they had saved enough money to build their new house in 1970. Dorothy was always proud of the fact that, while other people would say they “built” their house when they actually had a house built, she and Norm and her father-in-law actually did build their house themselves. Dorothy worked right along with the men, mixing mortar, insulating walls, putting up ceilings, helping to shingle the roof, pouring concrete patio blocks, and working in every way to build a home for her family – a place where she lived until her death. After the family moved in, Dorothy for many years, surrounded the place with splendid flower gardens, because even though she could work like a man, she was truly a lady.
Dorothy’s primary vocation, to which she devoted herself entirely, was as a wife to her husband and a mother to her three sons. She was always busy helping the kids with school projects, be it sewing costumes for school plays, helping with homework, baking treats for special school days, and the countless other ways that arose for her to be involved in her son’s lives. She was a skilled seamstress and could sew nearly anything for her family, from shirts for her sons to suits and sport coats for her husband. As was typical of Dorothy’s personality, she was always busy making something for someone else, but only rarely for herself.
When the boys were older, Dorothy taught nursery school just down the road from her house at Salem Methodist Church. She loved spending time with kids and helping them to learn the fundamental skills that they would build on as they grew. Again, as was her nature, she sent the $40 she earned every week to her oldest son so he would have spending money in his first year of college. Shortly after, she and Norm decided to go into the tavern business, first as part owners of DeCook’s Inn in Mishawaka and then as the owners of Hickory Hiram’s (later The River Bank), also in Mishawaka. Dorothy ran the kitchen, and with help from her daughters-in-law, cooked for nearly the entire populace of the State of Indiana (or so they said it seemed like). Also during this time, Dorothy’s grandchildren began coming. The advice and experience she was able to impart to her daughters-in-law as they became new mothers was invaluable. Dorothy is survived by eight grandchildren, Norman III, Kathryn, Kristine, Dorothy, Douglas, Jr., Joseph, Jacob and Gabriel, all of whom love their grandma more than words can express and who will forever have warm memories of her happy, caring, and gentle love for them as they grew up. Dorothy also had thirteen greatgrandchildren, Savanna, Ar’rion, Andrea, Orion, Eliana, Abigail, Alexandra, Nicholas, Christian, Andrew, Claire, Louis and Benjamin, all of whom survive.
Dorothy was a lifelong, faithful Catholic, first as a parishioner at St. Monica where she was baptized, made her first confession and communion, was confirmed and married. When she and Norm moved to Granger, they became parishioners at St. Pius X, and as time went on Dorothy migrated to Queen of Peace in Mishawaka where she remained as a parishioner until her death. Dorothy was an extremely active parishioner at Queen of Peace. She worked to help put on the “Mother of All Rummage Sales” at the annual Queen of Peace “Peacefest” for several years until her health became too frail for her to continue. She was a long-time leader of the rosary before the 11:45 Sunday Mass. She sewed and decorated the gowns for those being newly baptized into the Church until her eyesight became too weak to do that anymore. Dorothy was totally consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and she prayed the rosary daily so long as she was able. Dorothy’s life was exemplary of a true Christian. She never had a bad word to say about anyone, but was kind and gentle and always greeted people with a smile. She accepted people despite their faults, and was a stellar example of the lesson to “not try to remove the splinter from your neighbor’s eye until you remove the plank from your own”. She cared very little for material things other than what she needed to live, but would always get a kick out of giving things to, or doing things for others rather than getting things or doing for herself. One example of countless others is when Dorothy, at age 70, decided she would single-handedly install the laminate floor in the basement of one of her son’s homes which he was finishing (having practiced by doing her own living room and bedroom after her husband died) and then, when she was finished with that, she installed the baseboard and all of the window and door trim! When this son would try to help her with this major job, Dorothy would say “don’t you dare touch it, you’ll mess it up!” The hearts of the members of her family ache with missing her, but they are sure that her simple, but strong and lived faith will be rewarded with quick entrance into Heaven.
Visitation for Dorothy will be at Goethals & Wells Funeral Home, 503 West Third Street, Mishawaka on Tuesday, November 19 from 3 – 7 pm with the Rosary being prayed at 7 pm.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Monica Catholic Church, 222 W. Mishawaka Ave., Mishawaka at 10:30 am on Wednesday with visitation from 9:30 – 10:30 am in church. Interment will follow in Fairview Cemetery. Guests are invited to a luncheon at Queen of Peace Church at the corner of Bittersweet Road and Vistula immediately after the graveside service.
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