Meadville Tribune

Obituaries (Archives)

February 12, 2013

Alice Jane Gebhardt Burbank

HANOVER, Ind. — Alice Jane Gebhardt Burbank of Hanover, Ind., passed away Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, from congestive heart failure and the effects of late-stage dementia. She was 92.

The youngest of three girls, Alice was born to Carl and Donna Gebhardt in Meadville on Nov. 12, 1920. She went to school and lived there until she was a young adult.

She was an avid swimmer most of her life; at age 13 she became the youngest at the time to swim the length of Conneaut Lake, a distance of approximately three miles. She was a long-standing member of the American Lifeguard Association. Alice’s early working life was spent in the travel and transportation industries. She moved from Meadville to Charleston, S.C.; and eventually settled in Miami Beach, Fla. In her free time she went deep-sea fishing and spent time at the beach. She also enjoyed the music and nightlife of pre-revolution Havana, Cuba.

In Miami, Alice met Fred Svorcek of Chicago. They were married in 1950 and soon moved to San Francisco, where Fred was the general manager of a luxury hotel there. In 1953 they moved to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, where they eventually owned two ranch properties. A son, Paul, was born in 1955; and a daughter, Ann Marie, was born in 1959. In 1960 the family moved to Missoula, Mont., where Alice began a long career with the U.S. Government, beginning at the U.S. Weather Service. Alice and Fred were divorced in 1972.

Alice found the love of her life in the fall of her years when she met and married Farnum Moss Burbank in November 1973. They both worked for the U.S. Forest Service Equipment Development Center at the time; and soon Farnum was promoted to a position with the Forest Service in Washington, D.C. Alice, Farnum and daughter, Ann, moved to the D.C. suburbs in the fall 1975. Alice became an accomplished technical writer and editor for the U.S. Army, working on several projects, including the development of the original Humvee vehicle.

In 1986, Alice and Farnum happily retired from their years of federal service, to a small house they had built in New Bern, N.C., not far from the coast. There, they dove headlong into retired bliss, nurturing flowers and trees, traveling, doing woodcarving and painting together and enjoying friends. Alice sang in the local choir for some time, and the two of them regularly delivered Meals on Wheels. They were members of First Presbyterian Church in New Bern. Farnum died in 1998.

Alice stayed in their home in New Bern until it became too much for her to care for. In 2002 she moved to an assisted-living facility in Bellevue, Wash., near her son; and in 2007 she moved to an assisted-living facility in Madison, Ind., to be near her daughter and grandsons. Alice was an accomplished bridge player until dementia prevented her from enjoying the game. She loved music and stayed interested in politics and current events as much as she could. She had a rare blood type and gave blood often when she was able. She was an inveterate beachcomber and loved the outdoors all over the United States. She had a soft spot in her heart for animals of all kinds and appeared to be conversant in several animal languages.

Alice is survived by her devoted daughter, Ann Marie Svorcek Rhoten and son-in-law, Drew, and their two sons, Taylor and Grayson, of Madison; son, Paul Svrcek and daughter-in-law, Adrienne Biondich, of Vashon, Wash.; as well as stepchildren, Alice Locke, Roy Burbank and Walter Burbank, and their families, all of the Seattle area; a niece, Dr. Donna Guenther of Richmond, Calif.; and a nephew, John Guenther of Meadville; and their families.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Carl and Donna Finney Gebhardt; her husband, Farnum Burbank, who died July 19, 1998; and her sisters, Geraldine Williams and Virginia Guenther.

A private celebration of life ceremony will be held. The family will host an old fashion ice cream social at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Ann Marie and Drew Rhoten, on Thursday at 541 S. Indian Cave Road in Madison, Ind.

Cremation has taken place in Madison and interment will take place alongside Farnum, in New Bern Memorial Cemetery in New Bern, N.C., later in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Alice’s name to Prince of Peace Schools, Madison, Ind.; Our Hospice of Jennings County, Indiana; or the Audubon Society. Cards are available at the funeral home.

The family extends its deepest appreciation to the dedicated and caring nurses, staff and management at Thornton Terrace Assisted Living Facility in Hanover, Ind., who became part of Alice’s extended family and cared for her as one of their own. The family also thanks Our Hospice of Jennings County (Indiana), who were of great assistance and comfort at the end of Alice’s life. The family also thanks the staff at Morgan-Nay Funeral Home, in Madison, for its full-hearted care and attention to Alice and her family. Share your condolences at morgan-nay.com.

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