December 20, 2014

Madeline Palmer Burbanck

Dr. Madeline Palmer Burbanck, 92, of Atlanta, Ga. and Woods Hole, departed this life peacefully, at Morningside Assisted Living in Newport News, Va., on Jan. 1, 2007.

She was born in Moorestown, N.J., daughter of Reverend E.W. and Margaret Hopkins Palmer, where she and her younger siblings, Peggy (Margaret Thurler) and brother Win (Winthrop), attended Moorestown Friends School (MFS).

She received a Bachelor of Arts in 1935, and Master of Arts in botany in 1939, from Wellesley College, where she was also an outstanding field hockey player, and earned an assistantship to help with the planning and maintaining of Wellesley’s gardens. In 1941, she received her doctorate in botany from the University of Chicago, at the same ceremony that her husband, Bill, received his doctorate in zoology.

Their two children, Melinda and George, were born in Springfield, Mo., where Madeline and Bill taught at Drury College. Her tenure at Emory University included the rank of research associate in biology, where she conducted studies funded by NSF, and others on floristics and ecological succession on granite outcrops, and as joint author with her husband, Dr. W.D. Burbanck, in areas of genetic variation and distribution of an estuarine isopod, cyathura polita. A species of cyathura was named in her honor, madelinesis.

One of her greatest joys was traveling to regional, national, and international conferences, including six trips to Europe with Bill, which increased their already large group of friends. Other activities, awards, and offices include an ecologically based column in the DeKalb New Era; member of the board of Druid Hills Civic Association; Georgia Botanical Society; Georgia Conservancy; secretary of the Schipperke Club of America; office holder in the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB); and many others.

Madeline enjoyed playing tennis and bridge with her family, friends and colleagues, and worked to keep the once highly polluted Peavine Creek clean. Other hobbies and activities in Georgia and Massachusetts included gardening; the local garden club; training and showing champion schipperkes; caring for her pet cats; singing in the Episcopal Church choir; sewing; bird watching; coin and stamp collecting; Girl Scout leading; attending light opera on the Cape; and Metropolitan Opera productions in Atlanta.

Dr. Madeline Burbanck is survived by her sister, Peggy; two children, Melinda and George; her son and daughter-in-law, John and Sabrina; five grandchildren, John Jr. and Laura, Alexander, Chelsea, Graham; and two great-grandchildren, Megan and Dylan.

A memorial to the life of Dr. Madeline P. Burbanck will be Saturday morning, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m., in the Church of the Messiah, 13 Church Street, Woods Hole, followed by interment next to her husband of 65 years, Bill.

The Burbanck’s property is now owned by Emory as greenspace, and Burbanck Park is to be dedicated April 22, 2007, Earth Day.

In lieu of flowers, tax deductible donations to Burbanck Park can be made in memory of Madeline and Bill. Make check payable to Park Pride-Burbanck, Park Pride, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave, 8th floor, Atlanta, GA 30308.

Published in the Cape Cod Times on 1/11/2007. Reprinted with permission.