Ilene Rosen Burton

                 October 14, 1929 – January 9, 2022

Ilene Rosen Burton, 92, was born October 14, 1929 in Detroit Michigan. She died January 9, 2022.

She is survived by her husband, Barry Burton; their children, Jim (Barbara) Burton and Debbie (Larry) Tihen; grandchildren, Joshua (Lindsey) Burton and Jona (Kasha) Burton; three great-grandchildren, August, Ari and Toby Burton.

Ilene was married to the love of her life for almost 71 incredible years; theirs was truly a romance for the ages.

She and Barry lived most of their married life in South Bend, Indiana. She was active in the Art League, Temple Beth El Sisterhood, and Hadassah. She was a social activist working with the YWCA to protect and mentor women of all ages. She also spent years advocating for vocational education in South Bend.

Her activism began when she was a teenager working at her father’s steel company in Detroit. Barely 5 feet tall, she moved truck cabs around the yard aided by blocks she stuck on the trucks pedals. She came into contact with men who, after WWII, migrated from the South and Appalachia looking for jobs. She made sure they were aware of services available to them and their families.

Ilene took care of so many people, including her husband’s grandfather and parents. She also enveloped her niece and two nephew’s after their mother died. Unbeknownst to others, she and Barry made sure people who were not relatives had a place to live, a bed to sleep on and food to eat.

Her grandson, Josh, said this about her:

She died overnight holding my grandfather’s hand. He was doing what he had always done for more than 71 years; take care of and comfort my grandmother. Ilene Burton died last night and there is a little less kindness and love in the world. She liked to drive fast, cook for crowds, fight social injustice, travel the world, run Temple-Beth-Els’ Sisterhood from behind a massive desk with this amazing paper crinkler gear thingy Jona and I loved, was a staunch Zionist and environmentalist in the 50’s before it was cool. She had an immense amount of love for her son, James and daughter-in-law, Barbara and daughter, Deborah and son-in-law Larry. She was an amazing grandmother to Jona and me. These last many years she has succumbed to dementia, but her sweet nature was always there. Even after she forgot all of our names, jazz continued to move her.

I will never forget the summer vacations with her and my grandfather that grammuz painstakingly planned. There was the slingshot I enjoyed in South Bend which suddenly disappeared when I got home, my first Notre Dame basketball game (Go Irish, Bust the Trojans), board games, and the trip into rural Michigan in her Porsche 944 with Jona and me in the backseat for cokes and some of the best French fries I’ve ever had. Muz’s hugs were restorative and magical. At 4’11” (wink wink), she was a force to be reckoned with, who fought tooth and nail for her children’s education, even if she once convinced my young father that knot tops were called fetters.

Ilene defined small but mighty. She had the ability to look at you with her big, blue eyes, bat her eyelashes and completely disarm you.

Underestimating her was always a mistake. She drank her coffee cold, could entertain large numbers of friends and family and loved deeply.

Graveside services will take place on Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 11 am., by zoom meeting only.

Please make donations in Ilene’s name to IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Fund, c/o IU Foundation, P.O. Box 7072, Indianapolis, IN 46207.

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