Mary "Eileen" Burch

Obituary of Mary "Eileen" Burch

Mary “Eileen” Burch

A resident of Chatham, Mary “Eileen” Burch passed away peacefully surrounded by her family at Riverview Gardens on Friday, February 9, 2024 at the age of 91.

Born in Orangeville, Ontario on June 28, 1932, Eileen was the daughter of the late Melville and Viola (nee McKim) Johnston.

Forever known as “Johns”, Eileen was the beloved and faithful wife to Bruce for 70 years.

Survived by her children, Randall (Arlene) Burch, Roxanne St. Pierre, James (Cheryl) Burch and Janene (Greg) Medd.

Loving Grandmother to Jennifer, Stephanie, Jeanette, Ryan, Renee, Victoria, Graham, MacKenzie, Taylor and Hunter.

Great Grandmother to Cale, Caydence, Dominic, Liam, Hailey, Nathan, Harlyn, Lennon and Quinn.

Eileen is survived by her brother Ross and predeceased by brothers, Grant (Margaret), Keith (Margaret) and sister-in-law Gail Johnston.

Sister-in-law to Donald (Edith) Burch, Eileen (Howard) Newton, Leonard (Estella) Burch, Alberta (Neil) Turnbull and Eula Goodhead.

Loving “Aunt Eileen” to several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.

Eileen, better know as Johns, wore many hats in her 91 years. She was a loving daughter, wife, mom, she was grandma, “little” grandma, meme and mom to her many fur babies.

Eileen loved her years living on the farm in Caledon, Ontario where she chased her dad down the lane early every morning to help with the chores. She would rather milk cows, team up the horses, climb the windmill and help with the fields than stay in the house and do “lady” jobs. She was also very helpful with the repairs, especially swinging a hammer and always being there to help where needed. Her love for the outdoors continued on her entire life.

Eileen went to elementary and middle school in Caledon and then went on to live with her grandmother in Orangeville where she attended high school. This is where she met Bruce at the age of 15. Their love blossomed very quickly getting them both in a bit of trouble when leaving for lunch on Bruce’s Harley. Eileen graduated with a Grade 12 education and continued her dream of becoming a nurse at Guelph University. She lived in the residence at Guelph General Hospital for 3 years, where she finally got the sisters she never had. She graduated in 1953 as a Registered Nurse.

Eileen married the love of her life, Bruce, on September 5, 1953 at Knox United Church in Caledon. Together their careers had them living in several towns, traveling miles and miles of highways and making life long friends along the way.

They started their lives together living in Oakville where she worked at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital from 1953 to 1962. Then off to Simcoe, where they built their first home together and raised their four children. She continued her work at the Norfolk General Hospital until 1967, when they hit the road again for Essex County, landing in rural Cottam and building their second home together. Eileen continued her career at the Leamington District Memorial Hospital in the Emergency Department until 1978. She finished her 31 year career in nursing at the Kingsville Medical Center in 1982.

Eileen was passionate about her job and her “life long friendships” she made along the way. She loved to attend the “nurse parties and reunions” and absolutely loved dressing fancy in her hand sewn outfits for the police functions. In 1982, Bruce was finishing his career with the Ontario Provincial Police and they hit the highway running once again for Chatham, his final posting. It was here they “bought” their first house.

In preparing for Bruce's retirement, they purchased a lot in a bush in Orillia in 1987 which they cleared and built a home that Eileen designed. There they lived until moving back to Chatham in 2008 to be closer to their granddaughters.

Eileen started her retirement by diving into her family history and genealogy. She loved Caddy car rides for ice cream, gardening, sewing, crocheting, toll painting, her cottage, ceramics and she spent hours and hours staining and fine finishing all of Bruce's many woodworking pieces. She loved to bake. Eileen was known for her sweets, her apple pie, homemade bagels, muffins and her “made with love” carrot cake. Her motto with her grandchildren was “Life is short, eat dessert first” which turned into feeding the grandkids anything they wanted for breakfast, even if it meant ice cream!

Eileen had a passion for life that far surpassed anything else. She insisted on having one place to always call “home”. While raising her kids and working full-time, in 1970, Bruce and Eileen designed and built their forever home “Burch Point Paradise” on Little Kennisis Lake in Haliburton Highlands. It is here that they enjoyed their free time. Picking a “daisy a day”, boat rides, marina trips for snack n a half ice cream treats, snowmobiling (speeding by others on the lake), sing songs, picking wild raspberries and making jam, card games, cottage golf, ice skating, ice fishing, hockey, tobogganing (on a shovel), swinging her hammer, helping whenever needed, watching her kids and grandkids swim, water skiing, jumping off the dock (even though she only swam “once a year") and baking. Her cottage friends have always been a joyful topic of conversation ending with “What happens at the cottage stays at the cottage!” Eileen’s memory will forever live on, on “Grandma’s deck" and her “cabin”, as she named the lane leading to the cottage, “Forget-me-not Lane.”

Honouring the wishes of Eileen, there will be no funeral and cremation has taken place. A private family celebration will be held at a later date.

Our family would like to thank the staff at Riverview Gardens on Floors 3E, 6E, and the staff on 2W.  Your compassion and care have been exceptional and the way you are caring for Bruce at this time, you all know who you are…thank you!

In memory of Eileen, please consider donations to the Alzheimer Society or the Ronald McDonald House, London Branch.

Online condolences may be left at

McKinlay Funeral Home

459 St. Clair Street, Chatham



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