Obituary: Mary Anika McConnell Burney (1923 – 2022)

Because my family asked me to do so, I am writing my own obituary. That, in itself is pretty odd, but it has the merit of saying what is important to me in my life.

I was Mary Anika McConnell Burney, only child of Virgil Melbourne McConnell and Florence Cornelia Carlson. I became the wife of John Crouse Burney Jr. and then the mother of Loren Woods Burney Deveau and Dana McConnell Burney Swist. Then mother-in-law to David Swist. I was the grandmother to Danae and Ian Deveau and Adam and Alex Swist. I am very proud of them all, for they are nice people, each with different talents. I was the great grandmother to Loren Deveau Center.

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, on February 6, 1923. I lived to be 99 so don’t expect a short story! My father was working in advertising at the time my mother produced me. When I was about 2 my parents returned to Chautauqua where my father became owner and editor of ” The Furniture Index”. I had a golden childhood, but my teenage years were marred by the Great Depression that caused my father to lose his newspaper and return to New York to find work. My mother and I lived with relatives for almost 2 years. These years left a lasting mark but also provided a spirit toughening.

I graduated from Newtown H.S. in Elmhurst, NY. in January of 1939 and worked in window design in NY. until the following fall when I attended my father’s alma mater, Allegheny College for 2 years. I worked for Gibbs & Cox Naval Architects during World War II for 2 years then attended Pratt Institute Art School for 3 years. After graduation I found a job at Longines Wittnauer. During the summers of art school I waited tables at The Ben Mere Inn in Sunapee, N.H. and met a young officer, John Crouse Burney Jr., on his way to Germany. He proved to be very persuasive and we were married in Wiesbaden, Germany November 12, 1949. That was the beginning of a busy life as an army wife with 35 moves in Europe, North America and the Far East, and with many military separations.

When we retired from the army in 1979 The Burney Company was founded. This investment management firm was to be part of our last 43 years. We settled in Portsmouth, R.I. where I designed and built our dream house and lived happily with my husband of 72 years and my 2 daughters close by.

Finally, I’ve made lists of greatest joys and regrets, sort of a life inventory.

Greatest Joys: 1. family – close and distant 2. wonderful friends 3. creative projects – designing home, Christmas cards and landscape. Greatest Regrets: 1. losing touch with old friends 2. harsh words, said in anger 3. Lack of creative endeavors.

A private celebration of Mary’s life will be held at a later date.



Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!