News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 14, 2012

Burger 1st female Chrysler-Dealer partner


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---- — Linda R. Burger, 72, of Terre Haute, passed away Dec. 11, 2012, at 1 a.m. at Union Hospital with evidence of her determination and courage present until the very end. She was born July 23, 1940, in Paris, Ill., the daughter of Carl and Dorothy Franklin Ludington. Linda graduated from Paris High School, class of 1958.

Linda moved to Dalton, Ga., and began what would be her life-long career in the automotive business. She worked for Brooker Motors of Dalton and became a self-taught accountant. After moving to Terre Haute to be closer to her mother, Dottie, she began working for Bob McClelland and Terre Haute Chrysler Plymouth. From 1975 until 1981 she was secretary-treasurer. In 1982 Linda became the first woman Chrysler – Dealer partner in the country and 1 of 50 women dealers in the nation. In 1988 Linda bought Chrysler out of the dealer partnership and became the first woman to accomplish that. Over the years Linda was able to acquire Jeep and Eagle as well. In 1991 her son, Kevin became a managing partner fulfilling her desires to have a family partner and successor. Her community involvement covered many areas of which board membership at St. Mary-of-the-Woods and Lighthouse Mission were two of her favorites.

Linda was adventurous to say the least. She had a love of all things challenging.  She wanted to learn to fly and that desire introduced her to her future husband, Donald F. Burger. First he was her flight instructor and on Nov. 27, 1981, they were married. Linda and Don loved to travel. They spent time skiing out west and later traveled to destinations including, Russia, Europe, Africa, and throughout the tropics.  Their favorite destination was the cabin in Canada. Linda was always up for an adventure, whether that be fishing, big game hunting, learning to fly, and learning to show horses.

Linda accomplished a great deal with a high school education but her desire to be challenged and her love of horses led her back to school at St. Mary-of-the-Woods. In 1996, Linda graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Studies and Biology. She continued to be an avid supporter of the Equine Program and was given a Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship in 2004. Linda later started Burger Quarter Horses with Don and won many awards in horse showmanship across the United States.

Linda was preceded in death by her parents and stepfather, Phil Curts; her sister, Janet Oxford; mother and father-in-law, Lucille and Emil Burger; brothers-in-law, Louis Kuczynski, Bill Kidwell, and Don Fowler.

Survivors include her husband, Donald F. Burger; son and daughter-in-law, Kevin and Lisa Caldwell of Terre Haute and grandchildren, Ethan, Olivia and Lily Caldwell; brother-in-law, Larry Oxford and his two sons, Matt Oxford and Andy Oxford, all of Dalton; sisters and brothers-in-law, Margaret Kuczynski of North Carolina, Louella Shaeffer and husband Dennis, Dorothy Kidwell, and Sadie Harpenau and husband Ray, all of Huntingburg, Ind., Jim Burger and wife Carol of Blacksburg, Va., Ted Burger and wife Carol of Fairland, Ind., and Rosie Fowler of Franklin, Ky.; special friends, Nora and Glenn Banta; many nieces and nephews; and a host of friends.

At her request, cremation will take place with a private memorial service for family and close friends at French Funeral Home. Donations may be made to the Linda R. and Donald F. Burger Aviation Scholarship to support the Indiana State University Aviation Technology Department. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Light a candle at: www.frenchfuneralhome.com