March 2017 · Donor Stories
Sometime in 1961, Geoffrey and Grace Noakes of Fresno, California, traveled to Manhattan, KS, to visit their daughter and son-in-law, Rosemary and Albert Burroughs. It was the Noakes’ first visit to Kansas; their daughter had only recently moved to Manhattan where she and Al had accepted positions on the faculty and staff of Kansas State University. Soon after arriving, the elder couple asked Rosemary to drive them to a location just west of Salina so they could see the Bavaria facility of Saint Francis Boys’ Home. They had heard much about Saint Francis from the Bishop of Damaraland (in southwest Africa), The Rt. Rev. Robert Mize Jr.
Rosemary’s parents emigrated from the United Kingdom shortly after World War I. Geoffrey Noakes and his brother intended to use their disbursement from the British Army to grow orange groves in California. They soon discovered, however, that such a venture wasn’t as simple (nor as profitable) as they had hoped. A trained carpenter, Geoffrey Noakes instead taught building trades at the high school and junior college level before eventually becoming a professor at Fresno State University. He and Grace were also parishioners at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint James in Fresno, where they met the former Kansas priest during his brief visit to the Diocese of San Joaquin.
“My parents were Church of England when they both came to the United States as adults; that’s why they attended the Cathedral,” said Rosemary. “Bishop Mize was in the Diocese of San Joaquin for a short time before returning to Africa (Fr. Bob left Kansas in the late 1950s to serve in Africa) when he met my parents and told them about the work he had done as a priest in Kansas for troubled boys. My father had been a high school counselor and teacher and saw many boys who weren’t doing well, so Saint Francis attracted him. My parents became very interested and began supporting it the best they could. For a couple years, my dad even sponsored a building trade scholarship for boys at Saint Francis.”
Her parents’ enthusiasm for Fr. Bob and his ministry inspired Rosemary, and by the early 1970s, she and Al were providing regular financial support to the ministry. For Rosemary, supporting Saint Francis made sense on several levels – her parents had a connection to Fr. Bob, it was an Episcopal ministry, and it served boys similar in age to her own two sons.
“We got to a point where we were finally earning enough money and could donate,” she said. “And although Al and I did it together all those years, it was really my choice. It just seemed like an appropriate place, particularly since it was in Kansas, too.”
For decades – while Al served on the KSU veterinary medicine faculty and Rosemary worked as a plant pathologist in the Department of Grain Science teaching Third World farmers how to preserve grain – they provide financial support to Saint Francis. Following her parents’ deaths, Rosemary honored their commitment to children and families by frequently making donations in their name. She retired in 1987; Al passed away in 1995. Still, Rosemary continued to support children and families through the ministry of Saint Francis.
“I have a lot of respect for Saint Francis and a lot of faith that it’s going to grow and continue,” she said.
That faith is evident with the opening of the new state-of-art Residential Treatment Facility just yards from the old Boys’ Home visited by Rosemary and her parents five and a half decades ago. Inside, visitors can see a plaque designating the “Burroughs Family Lobby.” Geoffrey and Grace Noakes would appreciate that.
“My interest in Saint Francis has been long because I believe in its future,” said Rosemary. “That’s why I continue my support. Saint Francis is important because it’s about people. It’s about kids.”