Retha Burleson - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Retha Burleson


Burleson, Retha L.

Born in Baca County, Colo., on Jul. 13, 1923 Departed Mar. 5, 2012

Retha Burleson died March 5, 2012 Retha Lois (Dotson) Burleson was born in a sod house on a homestead in Baca County Colorado near the town of Richards on July 13, 1923. She passed away due to a stroke at Castle Rock, Colorado on March 5, 2012 at the age of 88. Her parents were Ivory Ernest Dotson and Iva Belle (Wiley) Dotson. Retha grew up as the eldest of 3 sisters with siblings Doris Evelyn and Ethel Jean (deceased). When Retha was a child, her father took a job as a rural mail carrier and moved the family to LaJunta, Colorado.

Retha attended college at what became Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colorado where she earned a degree in dietetics and nutrition. While at college she met her first husband, Kenneth Leonard Poppe. They were married at her parent's house in LaJunta on August 18, 1945. Ken was from Wausau, Wisconsin and the newlyweds settled there shortly after their marriage. Ken worked as a manager in a car dealership while Retha raised their 4 children.

When their oldest child was 17, Ken died suddenly on December 28, 1963. Retha then took a job as the manager of the school lunch program for the Wausau Public School District. She held this job until she retired in the early 90's, making many friends and affecting significant improvements in the school food service program.

Retha married James (Jake) Clyde Burleson on August 16, 1969. Retha and Jake moved to her beloved log cabin retirement home in the mountains in South Fork, Colorado in 1992. Jake died on June 16, 1995. Retha continued to live in South Fork until she moved to Castle Rock in 2006 to be near her daughter, Lois, and her extended family.

Retha was a very active and adventurous woman who loved life. She continued to live independently, manage her own home and drive locally up until the day of her final illness. She learned to cross-country ski and rode snow mobiles in her 70's. She loved God, singing hymns, her cat (Collie), her family (especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren), her many friends, playing cards and traveling. During her 80's she traveled extensively with her family including to the Bahamas, Hawaii, Alaska, Wisconsin and California.

Retha was preceded in death by her 2 husbands, a step-daughter, Vickie (Burleson) Pregont and a son-in-law, Charles D. Blair III.

Retha is survived by children Nancy (Tom) Alar, Lois (Terry) Rickard, Ken (Melba) Poppe and Kay (Tim) Long; grandchildren Matthew, Elizabeth, Jessica, Marissa, Tyler, Jesse, Joey, Andrea, Kenneth, Morgan, Caleb, Ethan, Emma and Micah; Great-grandchildren Jayda, Brody, Taya, Kaiya, Colton, Cruz and Delilah with another one on the way in June.

She leaves a huge legacy of love and DNA behind and will be forever missed by all those who knew and loved her. She is resting peacefully in God's loving embrace.

A memorial service for Retha will be held on Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm at the Castle Rock Church of Christ, 2247 Fifth St., Castle Rock, CO, 80104. Steve Curo will officiate and Frank Rodriguez will lead many of Retha's favorite gospel songs.

Retha will be buried at the Restlawn Memorial Park, 4710 North Troy Street, Wausau, Wisconsin. A brief grave-side service will be held at the Restlawn Memorial Park Chapel at

11:00 am on Saturday, March 17, 2012. Dan Lange of the Wausau Church of Christ will be officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Castle Rock Church of Christ, identified in memory of Retha Burleson (see address above). The funds will be split between assisting Arnold Dzah, missionary to Dakar, Senegal, and the Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp, which Retha helped to establish. She worked there many summers while her children attended camp, managing meal preparation and working in the kitchen. These donations are tax deductible.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth Street, Wausau is in charge of arrangements.

Online condolences at



Powered by Frankly