(Editor’s note: The following remembrance was contributed by the father and son team of Mike and Jeff Burghardt, who serve as Racing Correspondents for our publications. They wrote this regarding the passing of Laura Burghardt, who was Mike’s mother and Jeff’s grandmother.)
Laura Elizabeth (Cantrell) Burghardt, named after her grandmother on her father’s side, was born on July 27, 1933 in Oakland, California, to Addie Margret and George Huber Cantrell. She grew up in a house on 3057 Blossom Street in Oakland until her family later moved to the address on 8125 Utah Street in the hills of East Oakland. She attended and graduated from Fremont high school in Oakland, where Glenn Edward Burghardt (who later became her husband on July 7, 1963) was also in her graduating class. Laura attended Mills College in Oakland, where she became a certified child care instructor. She worked at the Lockwood child care school until she married Glenn and they moved to 11453 Nassau Road in San Leandro, CA. We all moved to Oakdale, California in about 1975.
Glenn and Laura were inseparable for nearly 59 years. They traveled and did everything together. She was involved with the local Garden Club (served time as president), Art Society (served time as president), and along with her husband Glenn) helped form the Oakdale Historical Society and put together the Oakdale Museum while they researched the history of the Oakdale and Stanislaus County areas. She touched many through her writing, as she wrote the Valley Home News column in the Oakdale Leader until about 2017.
Laura was an accomplished pianist and often relaxed by playing the piano in her younger years. She was also a very accomplished artist, winning many “best in show” awards for her paintings.
Her favorite movies were “Gone with the Wind” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. Her favorite actor was John Wayne.
Throughout her life, the sea was king. Both Laura and Glenn would collect sea shells of all types from California to Florida and Hawaii. They often traded items with collectors from all over the world. Over time they had assembled one for the largest, most scientifically documented sea shell collections in the world. One type of sea shell, known as the chiton, was the specialty of their collection and they together became the experts in this type. Together they wrote a book covering all the species of this type of sea shell and even had a rare new species named after them in honor of their scientific work and dedication.
In their later years, we loved to take them on trips to visit areas of their past and go to the ocean to locate and take photos of various seas shells and other sea creatures. Her favorite sea shore area was Pigeon Point and the famous Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Monterey and Carmel were also other ocean area favorites and it was always a great day as we all searched for various sea creatures in the tidal areas to look at and photograph. It was always fun watching “old kids” searching through the tidal areas at low tide, looking at the living sea shells and (of course) chitons that were then photographed. These times at the ocean made them feel young, again. But, it wasn’t just the ocean and beaches, but trips to Big Basin, Big Trees, Yosemite and other scenic parks that provide us with great memories. We were able to take them both to the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California to see, up close and personal, various aircraft. Mom’s favorite was the P-38 Lightning, as that type of aircraft had often flown in the skies of Oakland, California in the early days of her youth during World War II. While there, we also showed them the #4014 UP Big Boy Steam engine as it was being made ready for transfer to another location to be readied to running order. She was amazed at the size and we took photos of the great locomotive and the two of them. They loved history. If that wasn’t enough, we all went and toured the USS Iowa Battleship. As always, they were inseparable and both like “big kids” as they toured the famous battleship in Long Beach. They were proud of us for helping with some of the ship restorations and Laura didn’t allow age to hold her back. She climbed every ladder and whatever it took, to get to the ship’s bridge and other sections of the ship. A highlight photo we took was a photo of all four of us in front of the famous 16-inch guns. Our final trip took us to the Movie Museum in Niles Canyon so she could see the movie history of years gone by. While there, Jeff took what would be her favorite photo, a picture of her with one of the historic move cameras.
Travels and memories are forever and we both had a great love for our mom and grandmother and she will be sorely missed. She had a strong love of animals and many pets and always recognized the sea for its beauty and wonder.
Now it is time for us to say “Good-bye” and tell Laura how much we loved and cared about her.
Your wonderful journey of life has reached its next stop. Now you must peacefully lay down and, as said in one of the famous movies you enjoyed, “let the waters of life take you home.”
Our great memories will fill our minds and souls forever, and we will always love you.
Laura is survived by Glenn Edward Burghardt (husband), Michael Burghardt (son), Kathleen Burghardt-Cobb (daughter), Patricia Ordway (daughter), Jeffrey Burghardt (grandson), Karilyn Ward (granddaughter), Stephanie Tolleson (granddaughter), Chad Burghardt (grandson), Ryan Burghardt (grandson), Mitchell Cobb (grandson), Kaili Ward (great granddaughter), Jorianna and Joann Tolleson (great granddaughters) and Logan and Clark Burghardt (great grandsons).