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Virginia Roberson Collins Burbank Passes Away

Virginia Roberson Collins Burbank, 79, of Glenview, Ky., passed Monday, June 28, 2010. Burbank was a loving spouse, mother, grandmother and successful attorney practicing family, tax and business law with Burbank & Collins, a law firm she founded.

She was born Feb. 22, 1931 in May's Lick, Mason County, Ky. Her parents, William Herman Roberson and Mable Ester Davis, and her brothers, William "Bill" Herman Roberson Jr., and Davis Yancy Roberson, predeceased her.

She is survived by her husband, William Fitch Burbank Jr.; her children, Wynter Reneaux Collins, Priscilla Burbank-Schewel, Jane Elliott Burbank and William F. Burbank III; and her grandchildren, Winter Robertson Clarke Collins, Taylor-Davis Collins, Laura B. Schewel, Benjamin B. Schewel and Emily P. Burbank.

Burbank was the only woman to graduate in the class of 1954 from the University of Kentucky College of Law. She initially worked for the Kentucky Department of Revenue, gaining experience in tax law since law firms were then uninterested in hiring a female attorney. She then entered private practice becoming the first woman to regularly litigate cases in Louisville.

Her achievements for the rights of women are many. She was the first woman to testify before the Kentucky General Assembly in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. She became an expert on the status of women in the law and spoke with conviction. She founded and headed the Kentucky Pro ERA Alliance and was the keynote speaker for their 20th anniversary celebration.

The Kentucky Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers awarded her their first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2010. She was listed in The Best Lawyers in America from 1983 until she retired. She sat as a special judge on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

In 2009, she received the League of Women Voter's Historical Honoree Award for her outstanding historical legacy in law practice and for serving as one of their founding members in 1960. In 2005, she received the Pioneer for Equal Rights in Kentucky award in recognition of her pursuit of the equality of rights for women throughout the Commonwealth.

The House of Representatives honored her with a Citation in 2005 for her special contributions throughout her career to secure equal rights for woman in Kentucky. She was recognized by Who's Who of American Women, received the Outstanding Woman Award from the League of Women Voters, and the City of Louisville's Fleur de Lis Award.

Burbank also enjoyed tremendous business success. She and her husband created the first out-patient surgery facility in Louisville, the Louisville Surgery Center, employing 35 people when sold in 1987. She was one of the owners and founders of the First Trust Centre and received the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Business Owner of the Year Award in 1995.

She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Filson Club, the Louisville Boat Club and Highland Presbyterian Church. She was a mentor to countless young attorneys and supported female law students at the University of Kentucky College of Law through scholarships.

As she gradually withdrew from the law practice, her active mind continued its work with the Kentucky Women Project which she founded and funded to research and document the social, financial and legal development of Kentucky women from 1960 to 2005. She was in the process of preserving the Kentucky Women's Movement through oral histories.

Burbank was an owner and supporter of American Saddlebred horses and saw her current five-gaited star, The Lady Sings The Blues, win at Lawrenceburg Horse Show last week with Helen Robertson in the saddle.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and The Louisville Orchestra.

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