Bishop Bruce Burnside (Madison, Wisconsin) and I were in the same graduating class at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. After battling cancer since August, his wife Cynthia died last week. Today is the funeral at Out Savior’s in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
MADISON – Cynthia Ann Burnside, of Madison, passed away on Thursday morning, Nov. 10, 2011, at her home as a result of an aggressive cancer that was diagnosed this summer.
She was born on Dec. 7, 1938, to Frederick and Eva Mae Johannes in St. Paul, Minn. Cynthia married her husband, Bruce on July 24, 1982, in Minneapolis and subsequently lived in Tacoma and Seattle, Wash., Columbus, Ohio, Sharon, Wis., Boscobel, Wis., and Madison.
Cynthia’s life was a witness to courage, strength, refreshing honesty, undeniable integrity and widespread generosity and to fair play. Hospitality came naturally, artistic beauty and a creative imagination flowed from her and so did a wildly expansive compassion especially for the mistreated, oppressed, marginalized and weak. Throughout her years she had a remarkable capacity to connect with youth. Uniquely gracious and dignified she was most comfortable and at home among the outsiders and the ignored and so the slums of India and the Refugee camps, villages and orphanages in the Middle East were familiar locations for her affection.
Like many do, Cynthia loved her family deeply and was proud that her children and her children’s children are kind and tolerant people. And she understood family to reach far and wide including exchange students from Germany, Palestine, and Brazil.
Known for her commitment to justice for the people of Palestine, she was fearless as a volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron, accompanying children through checkpoints, confronting violence with a bold but peaceful resistance, tirelessly believing and following Jesus who she was convinced is a Jesus of justice for the oppressed. Her convictions gave birth to an extraordinary scholarship program for children to attend Lutheran Schools in the West Bank and she provoked an amazing generosity to support “The Poor Fund” at Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem which she visited regularly.
Cynthia loved painting in watercolor, spinning yarn and knitting, hiking the mountains, traveling and reading and most of all being in the company of those she loved.
Living now, without her are her husband, Bishop Bruce Burnside of Madison; six children, Jody (Jim) Halverson, Jill (Tony) Ohrin, Jennifer (Rodney) Franta, Janna Huset, Jim (Amy) Jenkins all in the Twin Cities, and Maya (Art) Davids of La Crosse; and grandchildren, Erin, Nathaniel, Samantha, Ethan, Madeline, Jacob, Kelsi, Brittney, Brandye, Luther, Julius, Hendrik, Corbyn, Branick, Cooper, Caleb and Cyle.
Cynthia requested that memorials be given to support the library project of Dar al Kalima Lutheran School, a ministry of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Checks may be made payable to South Central Synod of WI – ELCA so that gifts will be directed to the school through that office.