Salisbury correspondent Mary Burchard retires pen and notebook
SALISBURY — When Donald and Mary Burchard moved from Bennington to Salisbury back in 1964, they vowed to become involved in their adopted community.
Don, who passed away three years ago, served on the selectboard and in various other capacities.
Mary parlayed her love of reading into what has been a 50-year run on the Salisbury Library Board.
“It seemed like a good fit,” said Burchard, now 83, who joined the board only a few years after the founding of the library, which continues to operate in the Salisbury Town Hall.
She would add considerably to her civic resume through the years, serving on the town’s conservation commission and a panel charged with exploring town hall renovations. She and her husband became active members of the Salisbury Congregational Church. They also trained dogs for the “Guiding Eyes for the Blind” organization.
Mary is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and meets weekly with a Salisbury Community School student to share her love of reading.
If Mary Burchard wasn’t directly involved with a local board or committee, she’d seek out information — to satisfy her own curiosity, and to share the community news with her neighbors through the Addison Independent.
This publication is saluting Mary Burchard, who for more than 15 years served as a faithful correspondent for the “Salisbury News” column. She’s regretfully putting down her pen and notebook, in large part because her eyesight now prevents her from driving at night and thus can’t get to evening meetings when town business is conducted.
Burchard has been offered rides, but she politely declines, saying she doesn’t want to be a burden.
Truly a selfless person.
“I figure it’s time to let someone else gather the info,” she said during a recent interview.
Burchard signed on as the Independent’s Salisbury correspondent under former News Editor Peter Conlon. She replaced Barbara Andres in that capacity.
“Barbara wanted to retire, and she suggested I do it,” Burchard recalled. “I said I’d try is and see if I liked it.”
“It was a way to keep track of what was going on in the community,” Burchard said of her journalistic endeavors, which included covering occasional meetings, calling town officials for news updates and picking up scraps of information from friends and fellow church parishioners.
While Burchard had never been a professional writer, she got some good training in school and knew how to put a sentence together.
She began her run prior to Rebecca Holmes’ founding of the “Spotted Salamander,” a quarterly townwide newsletter that recently ceased publication after a 12-year run.
Burchard developed a great rapport with her sources.
One of her two daughters, Brenda Burchard, is the Salisbury treasurer and could let her know if there was any excitement at the town offices.
There was never a shortage of things to write about, as Burchard proved through the years. She particularly enjoyed writing about the ambitious and successful replacement of the Salisbury Church steeple, and about a vintage friendship quilt made in 1933 by the Ladies Aid Society of the West Salisbury Methodist Church.
She credited many in town, including resident and noted local historian Glenn Andres, for occasionally helping her with research for her news articles.
Burchard will look back fondly on her role as a correspondent. It gave her added perspective on the way her community has changed with the times.
“It sort of got away from being as much of a farming community,” she said. “More and more people have come in who work in other places.”
Salisbury residents won’t see Mary Burchard at as many meetings, but she’ll be around. She has a dog named Bella who needs to be walked. And she’ll keep busy indoors with her two passions — reading and cooking. Daughter Brenda is a great help and her other daughter, Gayle — a registered land surveyor — lives fairly close by, in Killington.
Current News Editor John McCright recalled that Burchard was probably the first town correspondent he met when he came to the Independent 14 years ago. He had worked at the Hardwick (Vt.) Gazette in the 1990s before moving to the Boston area. He was encouraged upon his return to Vermont to find that Burchard resembled the town correspondents he knew and worked with in Hardwick.
“Mary embodies the best of Vermont with a love for her town and a keen eye for observing her neighbors,” he said. “I know from conversations with other Salisbury residents that she did a lot to promote her community and worked to make it the best place to live.
“She has been a great set of eyes and ears in Salisbury for the Independent, and was always professional in the way she reported and wrote her column. We wish her all the best.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
The Addison Independent cannot really replace Mary Burchard, but we are looking for a new Salisbury Correspondent. If you live in town and want to share what is going on with others through the local newspaper as a regular assignment, email us at [email protected].
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