FORT WORTH -- Even when she wasn't in the classroom, Alma Burnam was always a teacher.
Mrs. Burnam, who taught elementary school for more than two decades, enjoyed sharing information about the world around her.
"She was a great role model, not only for her own kids, but for hundreds of other kids," one of her sons, state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, said Wednesday.
Mrs. Burnam died Tuesday of complications related to Parkinson's disease. She was 78. A service had not been planned by Wednesday night.
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Born March 3, 1933, in Austin to Jessie Mae Gilbert Berry and Chester Maxwell "Check" Berry, Alma Ann Berry grew up in Artesia, N. M., where her father ran a road construction business. She graduated from Artesia High School in 1950.
She was working for the telephone company in Artesia on summer break from the Texas State College for Women, now Texas Woman's University, in Denton when she met Earl Henry Burnam at the corner drug store.
They married in 1952 and moved to Fort Worth the next year, where Earl Burnam worked at Convair and attended Texas Christian University. Burnam, who died in 2006, retired from General Dynamics as an engineering administrative manager.
They had three sons. Mrs. Burnam, who was active in the church, the PTA and Scouting with the boys, went back to school at TCU after her youngest son started elementary school.
"I was a junior in high school when she got her degree," Lon Burnam said. "Then she went ahead and got two other degrees."
She taught at several Fort Worth elementary schools, including classes for gifted and talented students. In 1982, her fifth-grade class at Benbrook Elementary wrote and published Benbrook: Yesterday and Today, securing a historical marker for the grave of James M. Benbrook, the namesake of the community. She taught the last 14 years of her career at Westpark Elementary.
As her children grew up, Earl and Alma Burnam became environmental advocates. Mrs. Burnam was an officer of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, and was state chairwoman of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club for two years.
Mrs. Burnam "guided the state chapter ably as it began the transition to a more sophisticated environmental advocacy organization with a strong professional team in partnership with the chapter's volunteer activists," said Ken Kramer, director of the Sierra Club's Lone Star chapter.
The Fort Worth Audubon Society created the Alma and Earl Burnam Conservation Award, and in 2005, the Fort Worth Nature Center created the Burnam Environmental Outdoor Learning Center. A scholarship fund in their name lets students enjoy outdoor activities at the center.
The Burnams even recorded stories about their environmental work in oral history interviews for the Texas Legacy Project of the Conservation History Association of Texas.
Mrs. Burnam also was involved with the Fort Worth Retired School Employees Association, AARP, the Senior Political Action Committee and the Senior Citizens Alliance.
Other survivors include sons Dan Burnam and Bob Burnam; sister Dewana Gray; brother Ray Berry; and one grandson.
Anna M. Tinsley,