November 17, 2011

Wendy Burr remembered as tireless advocate for children

Wendy Burr remembered as tireless advocate for children

Wendy Burr, wife of Ian Burr, M.D., former chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Pediatrics, died Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Wendy Burr

Wendy Burr

When the Burrs weren’t entertaining for a community event or helping at a fundraiser, Mrs. Burr was hands-on in the community, working behind the scenes to advocate for children.

“This is tragic news. Wendy and Ian and their family have been a part of the Vanderbilt family for decades, and our thoughts go out to the Burr family and to their many friends at this sad time,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The Burrs came to Nashville in 1980 when Ian Burr joined the Vanderbilt staff as an associate professor of Pediatrics and head of Pediatric Endocrin-ology.

He left for a brief period from 1986-1988, and returned to head the Department of Pediatrics, and later became vice chancellor for Children’s Services. He retired in 2006, but the couple remained active in the community.

“To me, Wendy was a dedicated 'First Lady of Pediatrics,’” said Meg Rush, M.D., acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

“She supported Ian and all members of the faculty with her advocacy for children and her love for the department. She did so by her presence and her uplifting, 'can do' attitude. She treated us all like members of her own family."

Mrs. Burr, who was modest about her community work, was very involved with the Nashville Ronald McDonald House as a board member and treasurer, remembers Elizabeth Piercy, executive director the house.

“She was always eager to help the house, and had a wonderful understanding of what families were going through,” said Piercy. “It breaks my heart to know Wendy is gone. It’s very, very sad.”

Mrs. Burr, who was born in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, is survived by her husband and two children, Karen Alsheimer and Craig Burr, and three grandchildren, Colin, Kelly and Ryan.

A memorial service to celebrate Mrs. Burr’s life is planned for Saturday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m., in Benton Chapel at Vanderbilt University, 411 21st Ave. South.
A reception will follow adjacent to the chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt or the Ronald McDonald House.