June 26, 1941 Tootsie was born and given the name Ella Gayle Taylor by her parents William Everett and Alma Leigh Gardner Taylor. Her brother Jerry and Sister Rachel built meaningful relationships with extended family members local to Greenwood, MS. “Tootsie” was a childhood nickname that stayed with her throughout a long life of 80 years. After earning her Bachelor’s in Education from Delta State University, she married Jim Burgoon of Texas and they had two daughters, Tara Burgoon Fritz and Chase Burgoon Spiegel. All of her "grandmother love" went to her sole grandchild, Casey Austin Fritz. Tootsie found her career as a court reporter for Leflore County and used her degree in education to teach and mentor many young court reporters over the years. She was admired and respected for her professionalism both inside and outside the courtroom. After a successful career, she retired and moved in with her sister, Rachel in Senatobia, MS. She was a member of First Christian Church in Greenwood where she served as Treasurer for many years. For years she held leadership positions with the Jaycee/Jaycette Civic Duty Association which provided varied community services in Greenwood. Some of her favorite charities included Cancer Research, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Disabled Veterans, and animal rescue organizations. If you would like to honor her by a “mindful act of kindness” with a charity of your choice in her name, it would mirror her sentiments about giving to those less fortunate.
Tootsie’s hobbies were varied over the years as she competed in horse shows, was a “band mom” at Pillow Academy functions and a crochet enthusiast. After retirement, her most enjoyable hobby was working in the garden. As she shared and showed off her harvest with friends, many referred to her as, “The Tomato Lady”. She loved to travel, and her ideal vacation was being oceanfront. She would say, “Let’s go somewhere to a beach and do nothing but lie in the sun and listen to the waves”.
A few of her favorite things included:
That song from the Sound of Music, food in general but especially a homegrown tomato sandwich; of course her celebrity crushes, Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds, Playa Del Carmen beach in Mexico; old school country/western music and Gaither gospel; favorite chef, Emeril Legasse but she had a picture of Eric Ripert on a button pin; anything emerald green; all-time favorite hero was her grandmother, Edna “Mammy” Gardner, the inspiration for her love of gardening; her personal mantra was "One day at a time" and she always adored The Sound of Music.
Whether she was growing vegetables for others, giving money to charities, or helping out with tasks associated with other people’s projects, she was rarely selfish. As her sister Rachel said, “Even with her chronic pain struggles, she was never one to feel sorry for herself or seek pity from others”. As a breast cancer survivor she knew intimately how to overcome adversity. Oddly enough, it was her heart that gave up the fight for her. She died peacefully at Baptist Desoto Hospital in Southaven, MS. She gave clear wishes about end of life decisions and asked that no services be held. She asked to be cremated and not buried. Please add to the Tribute Wall here if you have any memories of Tootsie. We know she made an impact on countless lives throughout her 80+ years. Those who knew her loved her.
A TRIBUTE SLIDESHOW WILL BE POSTED HERE SOON.