Marilyn Evelyn Procknik Burrage
Aug 31st, 2023
Marilyn Evelyn Procknik Burrage
June 29, 1936 to August 31, 2023
Marilyn was the daughter of the late Helena Buck and Peter Procknik of Taunton. She graduated from Taunton High School, was a winner of the 1956 Miss Taunton pageant, and attended New England Conservatory and Boston University for voice and piano, studying opera with Wilma Thompson, among others. She met her husband, Philip Burrage, during college while working at Robertson Factories. They married in 1958 and moved to Middleboro, raising a family—son Scott E. Burrage (of American Canyon, California) and daughter Dr. Melissa D. Burrage (of Weston and South Dennis, MA).
Music was central to Marilyn’s life: Her family remember her nightly practice sessions after work—playing her 1930’s Steinert baby grand that her husband gave her on their wedding day over sixty-five years ago. Her rich mezzo-soprano voice flooded the family home with music. For many years, Marilyn was a gig musician—performing as soloist or accompanist at area churches, schools and cultural institutions. She encouraged her children to pursue music, taking them to classical music concerts, giving them vocal or piano instruction, and funding weekly lessons with area musicians. Marilyn guided younger friends and relatives, helping them with their audition pieces for music school. She hosted great holiday parties with full-spread-buffets, and would lead family sing-a-longs.
Marilyn was extraordinarily creative: She worked for a time as a decorator at Robertson Factories’ Middleboro store on Jackson Street, showcasing the company’s coverlets and draperies, partitioned into twenty miniature bedrooms. She enjoyed pairing fabrics and colors, regularly changing and enhancing each unique display. She especially focused her talents on her own home, a 1950’s split-level, that she transformed into a replica of the pre-Revolutionary-era Hell’s Blazes Tavern of Middleboro (circa 1690), complete with gunstock beams, rough-hewn paneling, and a large English brick fireplace. An introvert, Marilyn’s homes were beautiful, intimate sanctuaries. She was a quintessential homemaker, often serving up beef stew or shepherd’s pie, or any number of tasty family treats. One would often find Marilyn and Phil in their wingchairs reading history books by a roaring fire. For a time, Marilyn was an antique dealer, although she acquired more than she sold. She made quilts and curtains, embroidered chairs, and stenciled walls to look antique. She foraged cat o’ nine tails in Cape Cod marshes, hung dried flowers from beams, and acquired supplies at William’s Trading Post to make pinecone wreaths and other decorations. She was an incredibly generous gift-giver, especially doting on her grandchildren, Lydia Burrage-Goodwin (of Weston), Zachary Burrage-Goodwin (now deceased) and Ray Burrage-Goodwin (of Ottawa). Her son-in-law Tom Goodwin recalls truckloads of gifts at the holidays, each package artistic in-and-of itself, adorned with ribbons, twine and other natural items.
Marilyn and Phil had a great love of history, particularly Colonial-era history—packing their young children in their wood-paneled station wagon for weekend day trips to the John Alden House Museum, Jabez Howland House, and other historic sites. Marilyn took great part in Middleboro’s 1969 tercentennial and 1976 bicentennial festivities, sewing bonnets, skirts, and other Colonial and Revolutionary era garb for town events.
In the workplace, Marilyn was known for her fashion sense, wearing matching outfits and accessories, noted by the 2005 Middleboro Gazette upon her retirement from public life. To the very end, she cared about her public appearance, even requesting a hairbrush shortly before she passed. While always impeccably dressed, she was a paradox, having spent her childhood on her grandparent’s Raynham farm, where she had a pet pig and two dogs—Snooks and Pal. In Middleboro, she loved her great Saint Bernards’ Abby and Brandy, who slobbered and shed incessantly. She adored later pets, such as her grand-dogs Huxley and Layla and her grand-cat Almond Joy. Regardless of her desire to keep her clothing and her homes immaculate, she made unapologetic accommodations for family animals.
Marilyn fulfilled many professional roles while raising her children: She worked as Secretary at the Central Congregational Church in Middleboro for a time, preparing weekly programs and organizing church fairs. The family have vivid memories of Marilyn making hundreds of paper tissue flowers and baking pastel colored candies to adorn the hall, a magical feast for the eyes. For a brief period, she worked at Wheaton College in Norton as Assistant to the Director of Student Life, and as part of the Assessor’s Revaluation Team for the Town of Whitman. For a majority of her thirty-year career, however, she worked for the Town of Middleboro in various capacities—as Administrative Assistant in the Health Department and Veterans Services Departments, and as Assistant Assessor in the Assessor’s Department. Marilyn maintained great professionalism in these roles. Her coworkers found her to be multi-talented, both with town employees and with the public, and her many years of service afforded her a knowledge of the inner-workings of the town government that proved invaluable. Marilyn is perhaps best known for the courage and perseverance she exhibited during a six-year-long battle with the Board of Selectmen for pay equity, fighting discrimination, and never backing down from her position for fair treatment. Fiercely independent, supremely dignified, this classy, talented, creative and beautiful woman will be missed.
The family wish to thank Dr. Melissa A. Wendt and Dr. Elizabeth A. Mahanor for their expertise, compassion and unfailing support of mom for the last few years. We are also extremely grateful for the nurses, doctors and administrative staff at Cape Cod Hospital, and for the wonderful care mom received from the Cape Cod VNA. In lieu of flowers, please send memories or cards of condolence to Marilyn’s husband Phil Burrage, in care of Hallett Funeral Home, 273 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The family is planning a small gathering at a later time. If you wish to be included, please let Phil know.