Tributes are being paid to a long-serving councillor and former mayor who will ‘be sorely missed’.
Councillor Rita Burgess passed away on December 3, two weeks before her 75th birthday.
The Mayor and Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council led the tributes to Mrs Burgess, who spent 30 years of her life serving her community.
She leaves three children and four grandchildren.
Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Cllr Paul Frankum said: “Having served with Cllr Rita Burgess for 14 years on the licensing committee I found she always had a warm and supportive word of encouragement, and was quite often seen handing out sweets at full council meetings. She will be sadly missed.”
Born in Essex, Cllr Burgess moved to Basingstoke in 1969 with her family – her son Steven and her twin daughters Susan and Hazel.
Having first been elected to the borough council in 1984, she served as a councillor for Winklebury for 12 years.
She returned to the council in 1999 representing Kempshott ward, and served as chairman of the council’s licensing committee for many years.
As Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane from 2002 to 2003, she enjoyed her time as first citizen of the borough, with daughter Hazel serving as her consort.
Cllr Burgess was also a councillor for Hampshire County Council.
Borough council leader Clive Sanders said: “Rita was somebody who really embodied the idea of public service – 30 years of being a borough councillor, 18 years as a county councillor and holding the office of mayor for a year is a track record that few will emulate. On the surface a quiet and gentle person who was scrupulously fair, that appearance masked a piercing intellect and an unwillingness to suffer fools gladly that made her an outstanding chair of licensing. A pillar of the council for so many years, she will be sorely missed by all who knew her.”
With a career in accountancy, Cllr Burgess worked on environmental projects at AWE in Aldermaston.
A member of the high IQ society MENSA, Cllr Burgess was also keen on adventurous sports.
The funeral service will take place at Basingstoke Crematorium tomorrow [December 15] at 3.30pm.