Burdette M. Blaska

 

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Burdette M. Blaska

June 27, 2013
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

On July 5, 2013, the day after Independence Day, we celebrate the life of a true patriot, philanthropist, and champion of education. Burdette Muriel Blaska, the last and longest-lived of the Greatest Generation of Blaskas died January 29, 2012, at the age of 94.

 She was the fourth of nine children born on a hard-working Sun Prairie farm to John M. and Rose Schuster Blaska on March 25, 1917. After graduation from Sun Prairie high school, Aunt Burdette received her nurse’s cap from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing, Madison, in 1937. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing service administration from the University of Minnesota.

Her 31-year career with the U.S. Navy began in February 1941. She rose to the rank of captain — the highest rank in Navy nursing. When appointed in 1966, she was one of only four. She was stationed aboard the USS President Jackson troop transport ship, at Great Lakes,  Ill.; at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Oakland, CA.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Yokosuka, Japan; and at Balboa Navy Hospital in San Diego. In San Diego, at the time the largest Navy hospital, she commanded 275 registered nurses, 110 nursing assistants, and 400 hospital corpsmen at the 2,350-bed hospital nursing sailors and soldiers during the height of the Vietnam War.

After her retirement from the Navy in July 1972, well before the Internet, she visited the formerly German area of the Czech Republic to document the Blaska family history. 

She wrote an incredibly vivid account of growing up in a large and ambitious family in an era of hungry grain threshing crews, storing canned preserves in the basement, tending wood-burning stoves, horse-drawn sleighs, ice cream socials, and one-room country schools with the biffies out back.

To encourage higher education, she provided generous scholarships for the children of her 19 surviving nieces and nephews. She generously supported many causes, including St. Mary’s Hospital and the Island Church (St. Wenceslaus) built by her ancestors in 1863 in rural Waterloo.

Typical of her interest in health and education, our Aunt Burdette had donated her mortal remains to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, which have now been returned.

A funeral mass was celebrated at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Church,  at 12:30 p.m. Friday, July 5. Father John Silva officiated. Graveside services at Sacred Hearts Cemetery were held at 1:30 with full military honors for this World War 2 veteran. Friends were invited to join the family at The Oaks Clubhouse, 4740 Pierceville Road, rural Cottage Grove, at 2:30.

  Official Link:  http://www.tributes.com/show/Burdette-Blaska-96036372

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This site was last updated 07/28/13