Dolly Burst remembered by friends as caring and courageous

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Dolly Burst Dolly Burst

OCEAN CITY — Never without a warm smile and a kind word, according to her friends, BettyMarie J. Burst, affectionately known as “Dolly,” died Dec. 11 after a long battle with cancer.

Burst, of Beesleys Point, was a loving wife and mother, a teacher, a Realtor and a past president of the Ocean City Board of Realtors.

Eulogizing Burst at the Church of the Resurrection in Marmora on Saturday, Msgr. Peter Joyce, one of her former students, said the kind and compassionate Burst touched many lives.

He said he admired the strength and tenacity she displayed during her illness. Above all, he said, she was the epitome of integrity.  

“Dolly did not sell people a house,” he said. “She sold them a home. She wanted to make sure they were happy.”

Joyce said she wanted what was best for the family she was assisting. Her goal, he said, was always to help others.

Burst was his teacher, and was, even in death, still teaching as the lessons learned from “Mrs. Burst” will be with him, and those she touched, always, Joyce said.

Born in Perth Amboy, Burst was raised in Keasbey (Middlesex County). She graduated St. Mary’s High School in South Amboy in 1959 and Kean University in 1964. She earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling.

Burst worked as a creative writing and drama teacher at Warren Hills Regional High School in Warren County and at Bound Brook High School teaching English as a second language.

It was at Kean University that she met her husband, Paul Burst, whom she called her “Honey.” The couple married in 1964 and settled in North Jersey.

Paul Burst was a school administrator and when an opportunity arose to take a job at a high school in Cape May Court House, he accepted eagerly.

“Dolly said, ‘You know I’ve always loved the shore,’” Paul Burst said.

So they moved to Cape May County, and in 1977, she embarked on a new and very successful career in real estate. She was working in sales at the Battersea Road office of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Fox and Roach Realtors when she died. 

Nick Marotta, a past president of the Ocean City Board of Realtors, said Burst was always there to assist him. He worked with her at the Battersea Road office.

“She came over to me the first day, it was the nicest thing,” he said. “She said, ‘Now we have four past presidents in this office,’ she was so excited. Dolly was one of the sweetest women I ever met.”

“We started together, at Century 21,” Albertine Becker said. “We worked together for almost 40 years.”

Becker went on to become a manager at Sandpiper, and Burst went on to Grace Realty, but they stayed in close contact and worked deals together. Eventually, the two were back together at what was then Hager Real Estate at 111 Atlantic Ave.

“Dolly was my manager,” Becker said. “She was a very good boss. She was so generous with her thoughts, her time. At Christmas, Paul would make this wonderful buffet for us. She bought a present for everyone. She was honest, up front. We helped each other. There was a lot of loyalty with Dolly, that’s the way she was.”

They ended up together again at the Battersea Road office.

“Every day, we ate lunch together,” she said.

Burst rounded everyone up at 1 p.m., Becker said.

“It was an important part of our day, all those years,” she said.

Becker said Burst and her husband had a wonderful life together.

“They honored and respected each other. They had a beautiful relationship,” she said.

Burst hired Donna Honnen as an office assistant nearly a dozen years ago. They moved from Atlantic Avenue to Battersea Road together.

“Dolly was everything. She was our mother, our grandmother, our sister, our best friend, whatever we needed her to be,” Honnen said. “She was so thoughtful and generous, always very thankful of anything you did for her. She would write you a thank you note for the littlest thing. She remembered your birthday. She was a very giving person.

“She was very encouraging,” Honnen said, adding that Burst wanted the best for everyone and wanted them to aspire to be the best they could be. “She went above and beyond.”

Each year, Burst would help families, through the Make a Wish Foundation, to enjoy an Ocean City vacation, Honnen explained.

“She would do anything to help anyone and never wanted anything in return,” she said. “She did everything possible to make their wish come true.”

According to Honnen, Burst loved animals, too.

“She always wanted to help those who could least help themselves. She gave and gave and gave,” she said.

Burst, she said, worked until the end.

“She loved this job and she would not give it up,” Honnen said, adding that Burst’s customers were going to miss her. “Her clients became her friends; she made a lot of wonderful connections.

“I knew her for 12 years, and that was not long enough,” she said. “I want more. Dolly was an amazing lady. Once she befriended you, you were a friend for life. She touched a lot of people.”

Kathy DiGuglielmo worked with Burst at the Battersea Road office and also on the Board of Realtors.

“She encouraged me, inspired me,” DiGuglielmo said, adding that she admired Burst, who served on the South Jersey Shore Regional MLS from 1993 to 1998, the Ocean City Board of Realtors executive board from 1986 to 1994 and as president in 1992.

DiGuglielmo said Burst was a “pioneer,” serving at a time when it was not easy for a woman to lead.

Two weeks ago, after DiGuglielmo had knee surgery, Burst called her to see how she was recuperating.

“She was in bed, it was unbelievable. She put her own pain aside to check on me,” she said.

DiGuglielmo said she did not know of Burst’s condition for the longest time.

“When I found out I said, ‘Go home and rest,’ and she said, ‘No.’ She wanted to work,” she said. “Working was part of her purpose; it kept her going, kept her mind off of her troubles. Dolly was a fighter, she was just awesome.”

Pete Madden, manager of the Battersea Road office, said Burst was “unbelievably tough.”
“She didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her,” he said. “She never missed a beat.”

Madden said that Burst had a lot of endearing qualities and that she was very humble. “Because of her humility, I imagine she is now looking down on us, very surprised at the number of people that she impacted. She didn’t realize the impact that she had. She built a genuine bond with a lot of people.

“Dolly was a good person, whom I looked up to and admired,” he said. “She was a manager and then I was her manager and it never fazed her. She was always helpful to me. She embraced it and was an asset to this office.

“It will be tough going forward without her,” he said. “Dolly will be sorely missed.”


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