Dorothy Maxine Burgess, 89

Dorothy Maxine Burgess, 89, of Hamilton passed away peacefully on Monday, October 3, 2016 with her daughter at her side at the Marcus Daly Hospice and Palliative Care Center.


Dorothy Maxine Burgess, 89, of Hamilton passed away peacefully on Monday, October 3, 2016 with her daughter at her side at the Marcus Daly Hospice and Palliative Care Center.

She was born on February 16, 1927, in Haynes, North Dakota, the youngest child of the late Gottlieb Beck and Katherine Wagner Beck.

Dorothy grew up on the family homestead, outside of Haynes, North Dakota. She rode the family pony to and from elementary school, which, when Dorothy was in first grade, was taught by her older sister, Martha. Their small town did not have a high school and travel was difficult, so she attended high school in Hettinger, North Dakota, boarding at various homes with other country girls, some of whom became lifelong friends.

Dorothy had a love of reading and learning that she would embrace throughout her life and share with all those around her. After graduating from high school, she completed one semester of study at the University of North Dakota before being hired to teach elementary school in a one room school house.

Dorothy continued teaching in both North Dakota and Montana. She found she loved working with third and fourth graders most of all. While teaching in Sydney, Montana in 1951, she met James Tillson (Jim) Burgess. They were married on Dec. 27, 1951. In 1954, Dorothy and James moved to Bakersfield, Calif. for Jim’s job with the Social Security Administration. In California, Dorothy devoted much of her attention to raising her two children, James and Janet.

Dorothy and Jim lived In Twin Falls, Idaho and Glenwood Springs, Colorado, until they settled in Missoula, Montana. As the children grew older, Dorothy began substitute teaching in local schools and worked on advancing her own higher education through summer courses until she earned her degree and teaching credentials from the University of Montana. In 1970, Dorothy became a school librarian in Missoula at Target Range Elementary School, where she shared her love of books and learning with children of all ages. She was the librarian there until she retired in 1987. Dorothy and Jim later moved to Hamilton, Montana to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren.

Dorothy took great pleasure in gardening throughout her life, raising fresh fruits and vegetables for her home and family. She also played the piano and retained a love of music throughout her life. Her faith was very important to her, and she was a member of the Corvallis United Methodist Church for many years. Her greatest, joy, however, was in her family. Dorothy and James enjoyed 61-plus years together. They raised two children and helped guide four grandchildren. They took on the role of grandparents to many, welcoming friends of their grandchildren to family holidays and being substitute grandparents to neighbor children.

Dorothy is survived by her son, James Beck Burgess, M.D. and his wife Dee Burgess, who reside in Tempe, Ariz., with their youngest son, Joshua; their eldest, Jonathon, attends college in California. Her daughter, Janet Burgess Sager, works as a microbiology technician at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton. Janet’s son, Dan Sager, is in graduate school in California and her daughter, Caitlin Sager, lives and works in Missoula.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents, Gottleib and Katie, her sisters Martha and Clara, her brothers Emanuel and Richard, and by her husband, Jim, who passed away in 2013.

A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 11 am at the Daly-Leach Chapel in Hamilton with Rev. Debra Wacker presiding. A reception will follow the services in the funeral home’s community room.

The family suggests that memorials be made to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation, 1355 Peachtree St NE, Suite 600, Atlanta,GA 30309 Condolences may be left for the family at