Pearl Janet Burt was born January 12, 1918, in Wyndmere, North Dakota, to Robert and Ida (Braaten) Brown. She spent summers as a child on her grandparents’ farms, helping with the cooking for thrashing crews and enjoying the weekly trip to town for the free outdoor silent films. A smart student, Pearl graduated salutatorian from Wyndmere High School in 1936. After high school, Pearl and her sister, Gena, moved to Fargo to work. There she met and married her beloved husband, Willard Burt. Pearl and Willard together raised three daughters, Marilynn, Bonnie, and Julie. As a young wife, Pearl often went hunting and fishing with Willard. Always resourceful, she grew vegetables and sewed many clothes for her family. She also worked as a secretary and bookkeeper for many years. She became a long-time member of Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo and later, of Zion Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. Beginning in 1945, Pearl spent every summer of her long life at her cottage on Pelican Lake—hosting visiting family, gardening, taking walks, enjoying the lake, and, in the evenings, watching the sun set behind her beloved willow tree that arched over the lake. In her senior years, Pearl remained active. She took up dancing, volunteered at Bonanzaville in Fargo (especially helping move the Henry Martinson cabin there), traveled to Kauai for a Habitat for Humanity project, and was a regular at the Fargo Senior Center. She went on other memorable trips: Mexico, Guatemala, Switzerland, a family Caribbean cruise—and in her 80s, she finally visited Norway, the country her grandparents emigrated from. Pearl kept her keen mind sharp playing cards well into her later years, including a weekly bridge group, and she was a tough opponent at about any game. Tripoly was a family favorite on summer nights at the lake—and Pearl, ever thrifty, would never allow higher than penny ante! For several years Pearl wintered in south Texas. She lived her last two years in Houston, Texas, with her daughter Julie. Always kind and generous of spirit—with just a hint of stubbornness—Pearl was a sweet family matriarch. She was friendly and sociable, and she loved to chat. A creature of habit, she loved her morning coffee, her evening Manhattan, and her Christmas lefse. Pearl was well-loved by her friends and family, who were blessed to have had such a special person for so long. Pearl died on May 5, 2020, in Houston, Texas. She is survived by her daughters, Marilynn Kelm of Atlanta, Georgia, and Julie Burt of Houston, Texas; her granddaughters, Susan Story, Shari Simmons, Shanon Peters, and Nici Scott; and her great-grandchildren, Emma Scott, Christian Kelm, Kyle Scott, Sarah Scott, Georgia Simmons, Katherine Peters, and Emily Peters. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Willard Burt; her daughter Bonnie Eliason; her sister, Gena Hermann; and her brother, Raymond Brown. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday, July 31 at Boulger Funeral Home. The family requests that masks be worn. The service will be live-streamed at A graveside service will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

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  1. Pearl was so fun to be around. We had many good times together playing games, even at 100 years old she could beat me . You will be missed. she also grew the biggest rhubarb leaves around. most people reading this wont get the true meaning of this,

  2. I never got the great pleasure of meeting Pearl but heard Mom and Dad talk of her often. Touching so many lives with her kindness and heart of gold she has now gained her wings. RIP Pearl

  3. Dear Julie,
    Your Mother was truly blessed to have you for a daughter! I hope you are doing well. I have often thought of you and all the time we spent together in Head Start My sympathy is with you.
    Marcia Anderson

  4. Our son Peter Pfeiffer was a yardman for Pearl some years ago. She was a wonderful employer and good grandmother model . We thank the Lord for her presence in our lives. It was nice to see her the last time she was at Zion. Our sympathy to the family.

  5. What a lady! I am a friend of Shari Simmons and her family, but never met Mrs. Burt. I’m pretty sure I would have liked her, especially that little stubborn streak. Blessings to all of her family and friends.

  6. What wonderful story and tribute to your mother/grandmother. I enjoyed reading of her life. Sorry not all can attend to share their stories in person during this time.

  7. Pearl, Willard & their girls were a BIG part of our lives as we lived across the street from them when I was little, we spent many Thanksgivings driving to Thief River Falls, MN. Also many memories of Pelican Lake and learning to swim on Broadwater beach. Pearl was a gentle human and I always loved to visit with her regarding family generations and the history of the Thue, Brown & Braaten families. Thanks for all those memories Pearl.
    Love from; Tammy Iverson-Hansen
    Somers, Montana

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