Local poet and longtime Orange resident Pearl Burgess was left “speechless”  Tuesday afternoon as friends and relatives gathered at the courthouse to honor her and so she could receive two proclamations.

Burgess was under the assumption she was at the courthouse to support her friend Roy Dunn who owns the Record Newspapers. Burgess has had about 100 poems run in the local paper. One poem was of particular interest and generated more than 22,000 hits on their Web site, therecordlive.com

“We get a lot of response from her poems,” Dunn said.

Dunn added, the crowd of people were all there Tuesday to recognize her.

“I feel honored and humbled by all of this,” Burgess said.

The first proclamation she received was on behalf of Orange County. Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose read the proclamation aloud.

Burgess’ history began on Oct. 27, 1920 when she was born to Oscar Olivia (Poole) Myers and Henry Carlyle Myers. She was one of six children. A true tomboy, Burgess loved to hunt, shoot marbles and could “split a top” as well as any of the boys, if not better.

Her rich history includes both of Burgess’ grandfathers who were Orange County judges and so was her great-uncle.

However, not all of her family history is glorious. Her grandfather, was shot and killed in a dispute with another meat market owner in the infamous “Meat War.”He was not the only member of Stanfield’s family to die by the gun. The legend of the Poole brothers reads like a western “shoot ‘em up.” Three brothers, all shot to death in unrelated instances and different times.

In 1936, Burgess’ cousin, Ed O’Riley, the chief of police was gunned down by a Baptist preacher named Edgar Eskridge..

The Burgess’ family fills the pages of Dr. Howard Williams’ book, “Gateway to Texas.” Pearl’s copy has bookmarks scattered throughout the volume indicating her family’s mark on Orange History.

Pearl married Billy Burgess in 1938. Together they raised three daughters, Juanita, Billie and Beverly. Billy passed away in March 1997.

She later married J.D. Stanfield. After nine years, he died on Nov. 15, 2008.

The 93-year-old petite woman spends her days visiting people in nursing homes and does church work. She continues to drive and maintains her own home and yard.

“She has shown being a senior is not the end, but the beginning of a new life,” Dubose said.

He concluded by proclaiming Nov. 19 as Pearl Burgess-Stanfield Day.

Dunn, who emceed the events, said it was through her optimism  and outlook on life that she sets an example for everyone to follow.

West Orange Mayor Roy McDonald also spoke of her accomplishments. He told of her “church life” where they both attend McDonald Memorial Baptist Church. They both are Sunday School teachers.

Burgess later added she has been a member of the church since it began in 1931.

“Ms. Pearl we all have a lot of respect for you,” McDonald said. “We are all blessed by knowing you.”

Senator Robert Nichols also presented a proclamation to Burgess.

Nichols who said he had not had the pleasure of meeting her yet, was happy to be here.

“This is a fun day for me, but I am also here on official business,” Nichols said.

Nichols then read a proclamation issued by the Senate of the State of Texas. In part, it read, “The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to join the citizens of Orange County in honoring Pearl Burgess whose artistic contributions in her hometown have carried on a family tradition of enriching the community.”

Nichols continued to read the proclamation by stating, “A source of inspiration to many. Pearl Burgess’ poetry is a unique gift to residents who cherish her spirited eloquence.” He concluded by reading. “The Senate recognizes Pearl Burgess as a treasured citizen of our state and extend gratitude to her for her artistic contributions to the Orange County community.”

After he finished, it was then  Burgess’ turn to speak in response the activities.

“I appreciate this very, very much,” Burgess said. “I want to thank Roy Dunn for publishing my poems.”

The celebration concluded with everyone enjoying refreshments as they talked about the current and past events of Burgess’ life.

Left to right  are Judge Courtney Arkeen, Sen. Robert Nichols, Mayor Roy McDonald, Precinct 1 Commissioner David Dubose and publisher of The Record Newspapers, Roy Dunn congratulating Pearl Burgess (center front) on the State and County Proclamations she received Tuesday evening for her poetry and other contributions to the community. RECORD PHOTO: Chris Gunn