Gazette Article by: Chris Fullerton
Appeared in the Gazette: Spring 1999
“Volunteer.” At the Winnetka Historical Society that term applies to many people who contribute to the organization’s mission. However, one volunteer —Margaret B. (Pat) Burrows—is unequaled in her dedication and long-standing commitment to the Society and its museum.
A member of the Society since 1938, Pat is considered its historian emeritus. She says, “Time has made me an authority on village history.” Museum Director Maura Rogan agrees. “Pat’s knowledge of not only the Society’s collection but also of Winnetka itself makes her invaluable to me. She has been involved in all the changes in the Society throughout the years. Her commitment is extraordinary, volunteering at the museum weekly since its opening 11 years ago.”
During her 61 years with the Winnetka Historical Society, Pat has held many positions, including secretary, treasurer, and vice-president. Pat explains, “I developed an interest in the Society because I knew all the people who started it.”
Together with her late husband Bob, who was president of the organization twice, she was instrumental in helping to establish the museum.
According to Trish Early, founding director of the museum, “Pat is from that rare generation that believes volunteerism is truly important and meaningful enough that you can devote your life to it.” And Pat has done that, not only at the Society but at dozens of organizations and charities on the North Shore and in Chicago. The list of groups to which Pat has donated her time is as extensive and varied as her many interests. It includes the boards of the PTA, Community Chest, Winnetka Public Library, North Shore Senior Center, and Winnetka Caucus, as well as the Girl Scouts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the League of Women Voters. Today she focuses on her church, the Planned Parenthood Association, and the Society, where she keeps the records of the collection—the accession files—up to date.
Pat was born in Ohio in 1911, and her family moved to Winnetka in 1925. They lived at 604 Cherry Street. Pat married in 1937, and she and her husband built their first home at 1473 Asbury Avenue in 1940. They lived there for only two years before he volunteered to serve in the Army during World War II. After the war the couple moved to 614 Cherry Street, where Pat has lived for the past 50 years. Only two doors down from her first childhood home in Winnetka, she laughs when observing, “I didn’t go far from my neighborhood.”
Pat’s earliest memories of Winnetka are of the horse-drawn carts that stopped by the house each week selling milk and fresh vegetables and sharpening knives and scissors. She remembers it as a time when people walked to every place in the village and everyone knew each other.
Pat’s given name is Margaret, though everyone knows her as Pat. She says that it is not a middle name, but a nickname she was given in summer camp. After describing her volunteer history throughout the years, she added, “I guess you could say my middle name is ‘Volunteer’.” The Winnetka Historical Society certainly agrees!
SOCIETY LOSES DEAR FRIEND
Longtime friend and member of the Society, Margaret “Pat” Burrows, passed away September 23rd. A resident of Winnetka since 1925, Pat was a member of the Winnetka Historical Society since 1938. During her many decades with the Society, Pat held several board positions including secretary, treasurer and vice-president. Pat’s husband Bob, who served two separate terms as president, helped her establish the Society’s museum in the late 1980’s. While the museum was open at Skokie School, Pat volunteered weekly helping to maintain the museum’s collection. In addition to her activity with the Historical Society, Pat was an active member of the Winnetka Congregational Church for 76 years. Other community charitable involvement includes: the North Shore Senior Center, the Rummage Sale, Winnetka Library Board, Family Services, Planned Parenthood, Winnetka Caucus and PEO. Always cheerful, helpful and especially knowledgeable, Pat will be sorely missed.