The Garden Island
Notice #: 0001042313-01
Funeral Notices

LEBURTA GATES ATHERTON May 1917 – Oct 2017 After a long and wonderful life, LeBurta Gates Atherton, beloved mother, Tutu, community icon and philanthropist, died peacefully on October 22, 2017 at her longtime Honolulu home at the age of 100. Born LeBurta Marie Gates, she was the third of seven children of Charles and Hazel Gates of Denver, Colorado. During her youth the Gates family spent time in Honolulu for business and health reasons. In addition to attending Kent School in Denver, Burta also attended Punahou School where she was a member of the class of 1935. In 1941, while attending her sister’s wedding in Honolulu, Burta was involved in an automobile accident. One of the other passengers in the car was Alexander "Pug" Atherton. While in the hospital a romance developed and Burta and Pug were married in Colorado October 1941. They immediately moved to Honolulu where Burta resided for her remaining life. During World War II, Pug was a Naval Officer and Burta served as both a "Grey Lady" for the Navy and a volunteer for the Hawaii Red Cross. In 1951 Burta and Pug built a home in Honolulu where they raised their three children, Balbi Atherton Brooks, Frank Cooke Atherton II (Emily Coe) and Margie Atherton Newell (Frank). While Pug pursued his business career Burta became involved in innumerable charitable activities. These included Queen’s Medical Center where she chaired the Festival of Trees, YWCA, Garden Club, Outdoor Circle, Hawaii Red Cross and President of the Junior League of Honolulu. She served on the boards of Queens Medical Center, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and Honolulu Academy of Arts, continuing to serve on a couple well into her 90’s. When not raising her family and doing community work, Burta and Pug shared a love for travel, which they have passed on to their entire family. Following Pug’s death in 1996 she continued her community and charitable work, travel and became an inspiration to another generation of family and friends. Her love of adventure and nature took her to all seven continents. She loved the wilds of Africa and seeing animals in their natural setting. Her only travel regret was not living long enough to travel into Space. In addition to her children, Burta is survived by five grandchildren who adored their Tutu: Stephanie Newell, Michelle Newell, Alika Brooks, Erin Atherton Bennett and Frank Cooke Atherton III (Tripper), not to mention her 3 great grandchildren, Cadence and Magnolia Bennett and Juliette Atherton. Her life was culminated by not one but three beautiful Centennial celebrations. The first at a Hawaii Red Cross Centennial event where she was honored, the second at her childhood home in Evergreen, Colorado and the third in Honolulu with many family and friends at her home. It was a fitting conclusion to the life of an elegant and generous woman with boundless energy who inspired and was loved by many. Burta’s memorial will be private with a Celebration of Life to be arranged at a later date. In lieu of flowers Burta and her family encourage donations to: St Francis Hospice of Hawaii; Hawaii Red Cross Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation 13123 E. 16th Ave., Box 045, Aurora, CO 80045 Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine Research Complex 1 North, Room 8130 12800 East 19th Ave. Aurora, CO 80045