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 Stella Cornelia <I>Fisher</I> Burgess

Stella Cornelia Fisher Burgess

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 25 Jan 1974 (aged 92)
Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Section 5, Lot 6, Space 1
Memorial ID 99600764 · View Source
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Stella Fisher Burgess

Born in Chicago on December 3rd, 1881, Stella Cornelia Fisher came as a baby to Yokohama, Aomori, Japan, with her parents who were missionaries of the American Baptist Church. As a young lady she returned to America in 1901, to attend Chicago University. In 1905 she graduated from Kalamazoo College - and twenty-eight years later, as a poet, received an honorary degree from there.
Miss Fisher went back to Japan to work for the YWCA. There she met John Stewart Burgess who represented the YMCA. On June 19, 1909, they were married in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, at the Burgess family house. Soiling for China the same year, they took up residence in Peking.
Their first two sons - John Stewart and Donald Stewart - died in infancy. David Stewart was born in 1917, and Vinton Douglas in 1919.
Stewart and Stella Burgess lived and worked in China until mid-1926 when they returned with their two sons to America, settling in White Plains, New York. In 1930 Claremont, California , became their home. Three years later they moved to Philadelphia, living there until June, 1949, when they returned to Claremont, looking forward to years of retirement together. Stewart died two months later. Stella became a member of the Pilgrim Place family in 1953, and remained there until her death on January 25, 1974.
With Vinton and Mary Burgess, Alice Burgess and a host of friends present on January 28, 1974, David Burgess spoke these words at the graveside….

On this clear day, when we can all see Mount Baldy in the distance, it is altogether fitting that we are gathered under these oak trees next to my father's grave, to pay brief tribute to one whom we all loved. Mother was a person of strong family bonds who lost her first two sons in the mission field abroad. She grew up in Japan and was well acquainted with the language and the people there. She and her husband, Stewart Burgess, lived many of their most meaningful years in China. That great nation became a vital part of their being and of that of their two sons here today.
This last year I gave Mother a small silver necklace wit a peace dove hanging from it. Characteristically, as was her habit, she quickly gave it away. She presented it to an old colleague of Peking days, Dr. Ronald Sailer, just before he and his wife departed for China last March, with instructions that he place the silver necklace and the peace dove on the neck of the leading woman of China today. Following her directive, Dr. Sailer gave it to the woman poet laureate do that nation. Thus the peace dove made in Sweden, purchased at a UNICEF store in Pasadena, went back to China - the land my mother and father loved so much.
They lived in Claremont from 1930 to 1933, before moving to Philadelphia and Temple University. They proved wrong the adage of Thomas Wolfe that "you can't go home again", by returning to their beloved Claremont in 1949. Two months later Father died. Mother lived on here, made friends here, wrote poetry here, until her death last Friday morning.
What impressed me and others about Mother was the fact that during her later years, even during her long hours of pain, she seemed, spiritually speaking, to be walking on tiptoe, as if she were ready to leap into the hereafter. She was helpful to many of us who are younger. She gave a word of cheer to us in our times of doubt and despair.
So, with beautiful Mount Baldy and the Everlasting Hills before us, each of us, like Mother throughout her life, must answer the ultimate question: Is this a day of sorrow or a day of joy?
I am persuaded that, to her and all of us, this is a day of happy liberation in memory of a lady whose death came last week with merciful swiftness. It is a day we can all celebrate in the words of Saint Paul: "If God is for us, who can be against us" He who did not spare His Own Son but gave him up for all of us, sill He not give all things with him? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, of persecution, of famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No. In all these things, we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things past nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Our Lord". (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39)
Mother lived in that faith. May we carry it on.

Written by David S. Burgess

Family Members






  • Created by: Susan Kimes Burgess
  • Added: 25 Oct 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 99600764
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Stella Cornelia Fisher Burgess (3 Dec 1881–25 Jan 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 99600764, citing Oak Park Cemetery, Claremont, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Susan Kimes Burgess (contributor 47528859) .