Mary Burrows loved the outdoors. The marathon runner and bicyclist was known by many for her enthusiasm and excitement for outdoor sports.
That love came to tragic end, however, when Burrows, 53, died suddenly in a accident June 26 after being .
"One thing I can say about Mary is she never lacked passion for the outdoors," said former co-worker Tim Kulpinksi, bottling facility manager for Thetford Corporation in Scio Township. "Anytime we were out in the field talking to distributors, she wanted to run. Her stamina was amazing and she would push me to run with her. She would always tell me, 'Tim, bring your running shorts.'"
A graduate of Albion College, Burrows served as Thetford's manager of chemical engineering for the past 30 years. The company manufactures portable and permanent RV toilets, holding tank deodorants and related additive products used in and on RVs. Burrows was responsible for the formulation, production and quality control of every chemical product that the company made.
"She was very good at what she did, and she led with integrity and passion," Janis Thomson, regulations chemist at Thetford said. "Mary always sought the truth and she was diligent about informing people and clients. She was well-respected in the industry. As a mentor and friend, she will be missed."
Thomson said Burrows loved swimming, cross-country skiing and scuba diving, among other sports, and had recently taken up triathlon participation.
"She was training for a triathlon when she was killed," Thomson said.
Kulpinksi has known Burrows for 11 years, and said he will always remember her great sense of humor and kindness toward employees.
"She was a true friend. I don't think I will find another friend like her for a long time. I will miss her friendship and compassion. Mary was one of those people who was so well respected in company because he had a huge heart and a big shoulder."
Kulpinksi said his friend helped him get through a particularly hard time in his personal life.
"She always knew when something was wrong," he said. "I will never forget when she invited me into her office and listened to my problems. Before I walked out, she gave me a big hug. That's the type of person Mary was, and I will truly miss that connection."
"I would look forward to making her laugh and smile every day because it meant everything to me," Kulpinksi continued. "When she would laugh, Mary could brighten up the room. There's a hole in my heart right now that will take a long time to heal."
Karin Johansson, a formulation chemist at Thetford, worked with Burrows for seven years.
"She was extremely nice," Johansson said. "Mary was easy to work with. We vented our opinions and laughed a lot. She was one of those colleagues you dream of working with. We're all still in disbelief and shock that she is gone. It's a tragic loss for Thetford and for Mary's family."
Upon hearing of Burrows' death, Thetford released a written statement expressing condolences to her family.
"Mary was a wonderful friend, person and co-worker,” Kevin Phillips, executive vice president said. “She was liked and respected by everyone who worked at Thetford the past three decades. Mary touched so many people … to say that she will be greatly missed is an understatement.”
Burrows, who would have been 54 on Saturday, is survived by her husband, Robert W. Burrows; two daughters, Kristin Burrows of Pinckney and Sara O'Keefe of Austin, TX; two brothers, James Ruble of Grosse Pointe and John Ruble of Chicago; and one grandson.