Life Story / Obituary
With a heart of gold, perpetual smile, and vivacious spirit, Phyllis A. Burman was a determined woman whose gregarious and generous ways inspired all who knew her. Born in a time of peace and prosperity and having lived her youth in a time of rapid change, Phyllis possessed a natural gift for connecting with others and affording many a sense of warmth and deep comfort. Phyllis centered her hopes and dreams around her family and with an undaunting spirit made her dreams reality.
1953 marked the end of the Korean War, and the nation began to lean into a much welcomed time of peace. The year proved to hold exciting firsts; the polio vaccine was developed, the first color television sets, transistor radios, and Corvette cars were on sale, while the first James Bond novel made its debut and Peter Pan, From Here to Eternity and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes filled the theaters. The middle-class standard of living continued to grow and appeared to have no boundaries; it was definitely a time of much hope. Nowhere was there greater cause to celebrate the possibilities of hope than in the hearts and home of Clarence and Iona (Casebeer) Mahaffy as they welcomed their first child, daughter Phyllis on January 25th at Pontiac General Hospital.
Growing up on Oldtown Rd., in West Bloomfield, Phyllis and her sister Mary were raised with the firm foundation of middle-class values instilled in them through the fine examples of their hard working parents. Clarence worked as a truck driver while Iona helped support the family by taking on the challenges and rewards of being a school bus driver. Sunday family dinners, routine visits with Grandma Casebeer, trips up north to Sleeping Bear Dunes, and meeting her lifelong best friend Shirley Russell in kindergarten, proved to be enormous influences on the course of Phyllis’ life.
Naturally gregarious, Phyllis was a people magnet. She never met a stranger and never suffered a loss for words. Her zest for life was a natural attraction for her best “sister” friend, Yolanda (Baker) Daffron and for her future husband Stevie M. Burman whom she met in high school.
After graduating from West Bloomfield High School in 1971, Phyllis and Stevie married and soon began their family. The couple proudly welcomed their first son, Micheal, on February 16, 1973, and their youngest son Phillip on August 5, 1975. Phyllis relished in motherhood and dedicated herself to sharing the best of her own childhood with her children. She made sure they spent ample time visiting her beloved grandmother, sharing special family meals, welcoming others into their family fold, and learning the value of setting goals and making them happen. Phyllis generously took on the responsibility of helping raise her dear friend Sandy Losey’s daughter, Traci, while Sandy went to school. Phyllis considered Traci a daughter and her boys fondly called Traci their “sister.” Yolanda’s children, Stewart and Autumn, as well as her friends Traci and Glen Cahoon’s daughter Ally, also embraced Phyllis as a treasured mother figure.
In 1983 Phyllis’ parenting significantly grew after she and Stevie divorced. Never one to shrink from a challenge, Phyllis leaned into a deep sense of confidence in herself as well as the support of her friends and conquered the challenges of single-parenting with grace and style. Once her boys were grown, Phyllis returned to school at OCC where she earned her Bachelor of Nursing Degree in 1999, where she also met Traci Hinz (Cahoon) gathering another “sister” into her life. Soon after, in a commitment to growing her skills in caring for others, Phyllis also acquired her Master’s Degree in Nursing. Phyllis worked for many years for Henry Ford Hospital serving both the West Bloomfield and Dearborn communities with her heart-centered care and apt skill set.
With an infinite passion for living life to the fullest, Phyllis had many interests. One of her passions was documenting and archiving significant events. Phyllis always had a camera at hand and enthusiastically gathered, like precious gems, an immense treasure of special moments which she meticulously scrapbooked. Sunday drives with her mother were as important to Phyllis as her grand travels to Disney, Vegas, the Caribbean, and Australia. Wednesdays were Property Brothers with Yolanda nights. Phyllis would watch from her home in Michigan while Yolanda watched from hers in Florida each with their phone in their ear so they could chat with one another during the commercials about what the handsome brothers were up to. Phyllis’ movie, teapot, and Disney collections were monumental and truly reflected her enthusiasm for life. With a heart that only possessed the desire to give, Phyllis energetically sourced each year’s Mahaffy Family reunion which she tirelessly helped plan to everyone’s delight; her gifts, prizes, photos, and deviled eggs were truly appreciated and enjoyed by all who shared the yearly event. The Red Hat and TOPS groups benefitted from Phyllis’ unselfish fellowship, and her contributions to the local First Step charity afforded many domestic violence victims safe refuge.
While Phyllis enjoyed the good company of others and she was not afraid to let them contribute to her, she also possessed the capacity to be comfortably alone with herself, sometimes spending an entire day at the movies she loved. She knew how to be her own good company and felt confident in her ability to care for herself. She loved her condo and took great pleasure in transforming it into a beautiful purple paradise.
Without a doubt, Phyllis was tremendously proud of the men her sons grew to be and thrilled at growing her family when they each married. Micheal’s wife, Sandra and Phillip’s husband, Jeremy, along with grandson Quinn were truly Phyllis’ heart’s delight, and she enjoyed nothing more than sharing time with each of them.
Whether enjoying the good company of her much adored Corgi, Casey, collecting teapots, taking pictures, or sharing time connecting with others, Phyllis mastered living in the moment and living it fully. In so doing, she has gifted many with a powerful legacy of love and an inspiring example of how to live a great and meaningful life. Though the world is surely duller without Phyllis’ bright light, her vibrant legacy will continue to brilliantly shine in the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind. Echoing the sentiments of all who knew her, in the words of Yolanda, “She was my best friend, and I loved her.”
Phyllis Burman, Age 64, died in the comfort of her family and friends on April 18, 2017. Lovingly carrying her legacy forward; her beloved sons, Micheal (Sandra) Burman and Phillip Burman (Jeremy J. Sigler); cherished grandson, Quinn Burman; sister Mary A. (David M.) Horvath; nephew, David M. Horvath II; niece Saundra C. Horvath; and many Sister Friends including, Shirley Russell, Yolanda (Baker) Daffron and Traci (Hinz) Cahoon. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 22, at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman). In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to First Step: 44567 Pinetree Drive, Plymouth, MI 48170. To share a favorite memory and/or photo of Phyllis and to sign the online guestbook, please visit www.turowskilifestory.com