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Lois Burrell

June 14th, 1930 - December 31st, 2023

On the morning of New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2023, Lois Burrell died peacefully at the age of 93. Lois lived in her beloved chosen town of Brighton, Colorado for 49 years and remained independent at her home until the last. And an independent woman she was! Born in 1930 in Hampton, Virginia, she graduated from high school and went off to college at 16 years old, despite, as a Black girl, having to spend hours in the library to compensate for the out-dated and scarce books at her school. When, at age 22, Lois graduated with her master’s degree from the Indiana School of Social work, she was the only black female in her class. She spent her career as a medical social worker, helping others obtain what they needed as they navigated the health care system. Lois, and her husband Ernest Burrell, fell in love with Colorado on a vacation, and moved to Denver in 1962 with their little 4-year-old daughter, Pameela. Lois worked at Denver General hospital for the rest of her career. Lois and Ernest fulfilled their dream of a rural home when they moved to Brighton in 1972 and it was there that Lois found her home and her true calling. In the mid-1990’s, Lois, retired and widowed, with Pameela grown, discovered storytelling and fell in love with it. In 1995, she became a lifelong member of Rocky Mountain Storytelling and a professional storyteller. Lois thrived! She told folktales, biographies, myths, pioneer tales of Colorado, and dearest to her heart, African and African-American folktales and slave stories. She told throughout the Rocky Mountain region and traveled twice to Taiwan to tell to thousands of young people in schools. She was also a member of the Traveling Rainbow Tellers, a multicultural group of four women who enlightened and entertained throughout several states, and had a whole lot of fun doing it. At 91, after six years retired from professional telling, she was asked to tell at the Anythink Library in Brighton. She arrived with no prepared set, just a two-page list of story titles she could choose from to suit her audience. And suit her audience she did! They laughed, cried, learned, and marveled. Because it was, and Lois was, indeed a marvel! Lois taught aerobics at the Brighton Senior Center from her retirement until she was 85. She was truly engaged in her community, and was a good friend to her rural neighbors, old and new, throughout her 49 years in Brighton. Lois received many awards as a testament to her community engagement, including Brighton’s Outstanding Senior Award, the AARP National Community Senior Award, the Norwest Bank Red Sweater Award, and the Denver Urban Spectrum Community Person of the Month Award. Throughout her life, Lois had a deep and abiding faith in God, which gave her a comforting peace and saw her through many hardships. Lois was from a small family and the only child of an amazing mother who was a tireless activist and brilliant teacher. She herself was the mother of an only child, her beautiful and talented daughter Pameela. Both preceded Lois in death. Lois requested no services. Please say a prayer, or a wish, or a good-bye for Lois. Or better yet, tell your own story. She would love that!

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