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Jennie Brown Tallman Burrell passed away late in the evening of February 4, 2021 in Augusta, Georgia. She was in the care of her daughter Alice Burrell James and granddaughter Rebba James Cooper. Jennie Burrell was the wife of Martin O. Burrell (deceased 2014) and has resided on Sunnyside Drive in Towns County since June, 1975.
Jennie Burrell was born as Jennie Brown Tallman on March 3, 1921, in Long Branch, New Jersey to James Henry Tallman and Phoebe Penn Tallman. Jennie was the second child in a family of seven children with three boys and four girls. A child of the Great Depression her parents required her and the two other oldest children in the family to find employment in their mid-teens so their parents’ uncertain income could be directed to the younger siblings. While in high school Jenny worked in a department store and an egg farm among other employment while still pursuing a high school diploma in her home state of New Jersey.
After the start of World War II, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and served as a hospital nurse. After training in Iowa and Indiana, she was assigned to the Thomas M. England Army hospital in Atlantic City where she assisted in the recovery and rehabilitation of combat veterans disabled by paralysis and amputations. Here she met a young private from the Army Engineers who despite his loss of both legs maintained constant good humor and optimism while healing from his injuries and learning to walk with artificial wooden legs. The Engineer, Martin Omar Burrell, was from Atlanta, Georgia and the two soon fell in love. They were married in July, 1946.
Shortly after the marriage Jennie and Martin moved to Young Harris, Georgia where Martin pursued the first two years of his Liberal Arts Education. Jennie was understandably unfamiliar with the ways of Southern Appalachia culture but grew to love the charming and hospitable people she met and the overwhelming natural beauty of the area.
After Martin completed his studies at Young Harris, Jennie moved with her husband to Emory University near Atlanta in 1948 where he continued his studies in mathematics and physics. They lived in the tar paper covered shanty barracks known as “Mudville,” which is in the vicinity of today’s Emory Conference Center on Clifton Road. Here, in the summer of 1949, Jennie and Martin had their first child, a son, Alvin Burrell. In 1950, Martin received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and in 1951 earned his Master’s Degree, also in Mathematics, from Emory University.
The couple moved to Warner Robins in 1951 where Martin worked as Civilian Employee for the US Air Force at Dobbins Air Force Base. In 1954 they built their first home on Walden Road south of Macon in Bibb County. Always an avid learner, Jennie had taken college courses while in Young Harris and in Atlanta. Once in Bibb County, she enrolled at Mercer University and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1956. In the spring of 1957 Jennie gave birth to twins Alice and Eric Burrell.
In the fall of 1957, the family moved to Sandy Springs, Georgia after Martin took a position with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. The family of five lived in Sandy Springs while the children grew, but Martin wanted to participate in one of the great quests of his generation and took a new job as a research scientist for NASA working on the pursuit of the Moon landings of Project Apollo. They moved to Huntsville, Alabama. Once in the Huntsville area Jennie finally was able to employ her training as a teacher in the Huntsville City School system working with learning disabled children in the underfunded and emergent special education program. Jennie, realizing the desperate need and seeing the opportunity to serve deserving children worked full time as a volunteer for several years in the program.
By 1975, NASA abandoned the moon program. Jennie and Martin longed to return to the scenic mountains of Towns County, Georgia where their marriage began. Martin acquired property that was occupied at different times by the families of both his parents and the couple built their next and final home. The family nest was now empty of children, but never idle, Jennie pursued activities promoting conservation and preserving natural areas and native plant and wildlife habitat. In 1985, she finally found her ultimate passion when she joined with ten other citizens of Towns County to organize the Towns County Humane Society. With the assistance of the Sole County Commissioner, Truman Barrett, the Humane Society was able to establish an Animal Shelter near the current location of the Towns County Landfill. Jennie was involved in constructing and maintaining the facility and caring for the animals with the other early organizers. Her other major focus for the Society was in public education and the need to properly care for pets in a humane and healthy manner. She assembled volunteers, information tables and displays wherever she could get permission’ both outside of businesses and at public gatherings and events. At times she even housed dogs on her own property when the shelter reached capacity. The Towns County Shelter later merged with the Union County Shelter in what is now known as the Humane Society’s Mountain Shelter. Throughout her years of service with the Humane Society and Animal Shelter Jennie was known for refusing to boast or take even a share of the credit for her work and successes. She was always selfless, giving credit to her fellow volunteers.
As the years and decades passed, Jenny continued to advocate for environmental and natural causes. Along with her husband, Martin, she decided to put their forested property under conservation easement with the Chattawah Open Land Trust, now the Georgia - Alabama Land Trust. Delighting in the cataloguing of the botanical splendor on her property, she was very content knowing the rich soils and forested and plant-covered ridges of her home would remain undisturbed in their natural state and protected from development for all time.
Jennie was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was a long-time member of the Union Hill Methodist Church. Jennie was a kind and supportive neighbor to many in Towns and adjoining counties. She was active as a public citizen that supported local businesses, artists, historic preservation and small family cemeteries in the area. Jenny devotedly followed the lives of her many nephews and nieces from her brothers and sisters as she gradually became the last survivor of her nuclear family. Jennie’s passing was received with sadness by all who knew her but with joy and gratitude from the same for having known her and to have been touched by her selfless love and the example of her bold life of service.
Jenny was preceded in death by her husband of 68 years, Martin Burrell. She is survived by her three Children: Alvin Burrell, Eric Burrell and Alice James; her grandchildren: James Burrell - wife Catherine Quesenberry; Rebba Cooper - husband Jason Cooper; and Micah James - wife Erica James and their two sons Jack and Cole - great grandsons to Jennie.
Any remembrances of Jenny Burrell may be made in her name to the Humane Society’s Mountain Shelter in Blairsville, Georgia: https:// pawsga.org
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