Martha was born to the union of Cora B. Harold and Edward I. Henderson on January 22, 1919, the third child of four in Emporia, KS. Martha and her siblings grew up during the depression and often told stories of being very poor, but hard work, discipline, traditional values stressed by their very religious Mother and devoted Father got them through some hard times. Academics was very important, and was considered to be for men, primarily, so Martha’s brothers went to college and she and her sister were to be wives and homemakers.
Martha married her childhood sweetheart Albert J. Burnes, March 30, 1939 and moved from Emporia to Kansas City for better work opportunities after WWII. Martha and Albert had four children together. Albert pre-deceased her August 12, 2003 after 64 years of marriage.
Martha had a great love of learning and teaching. She was an honor student and in high school she was academically qualified to be a part of the National Honor Society program (or what was equivalent for that time), but discrimination halted that. However, that did not stop her from pursuing her goal of obtaining a college education. At the age of 36 Martha returned to school taking accounting classes and obtained a B.S. degree in Education at the University of Missouri Kansas City, May 1975. She encouraged her children and others to get as much education as possible, and to never give up on your goals.
Martha was a Learning Specialist at Penn Valley Community College—Pioneer Campus until she retired in 1998. Her community activities included Women’s Chamber of Commerce, joining that organization in 1982 and served faithfully on several committees. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 1986, being the only Afro-American to hold that position. Other Community involvement includes: Past-President, Central K.C. Chapter—Missouri Federation of Business and Professional Women, member of the Trail Blazer Chapter ABWA, and hostess during the 1986 ABWA National Convention in Kansas City. She was also a charter member of the Metropolitan Chapter of the Older Women’s League. In 1986, Martha was selected as one of the “Citizens of the Week” by KCXL Radio and Double Eagle Distributors. In 1988 she was recognized by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority with the “Woman of the Year” Award.
These accomplishments notwithstanding, Martha will always tell you her greatest accomplishment was mothering her four children and one adopted son. She is survived by her children: Albert M. Burnes, of Los Angeles, CA, Mickelin Burnes-Ragsdale, San Jose, CA, Latifah (Karen) Abdullah, Los Angeles, CA, William E. Burnes, Los Angeles, CA., adopted son and daughter Stanley & Joyce Peeples, Kansas City, Mo.; generations of grandchildren (12), great grandchildren (11) and great-great grandchildren (7), great-great-great grandchildren (4) nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends and community members who deeply mourn her loss.
MARTHA WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN BY THOSE WHO HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF KNOWING HER!
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