Dr. Anna was born in New Orleans LA September 18, 1944 to George and Amelia (nee Weixel) Burgdoefer. George was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic at the US Army Depot and Amelia was a New Orleans Police Officer. Anna contracted poliomyelitis a few months before the vaccine was available and it shaped her life both in positive and negative ways. Her early childhood was largely spent with her grandfather Edwin, and step-grandmother, Bernadette (nee Liuzza) who cherished her as her own. Her fondest memories were riding horses in the rice fields during her summers spent on the relative' s farms in Bogalusa, MS and Crawford, LA. She would be put on a horse after lunch and the horse would take her on adventures until it came back to the barn at dinner time.
She was an honor student at St. Joseph Academy, where the Sisters of Saint Joseph (CSJ) taught her that she could aspire to be whatever career she chose. During her high school years, she worked at the Le Petit Theatre, assisting with costumes, makeup and staging. She was also active in Civil Air Patrol, where she earned her Observer Wings and was the squadron weather briefer. She took pride in being able to field strip and shoot an M14 rifle. As an observer on one search mission, the pilot had to land in a farm pasture because of engine trouble. The pilot fixed the problem, borrowed some tractor gas and they took off two hours later back to base.
She moved to San Diego, CA where she did bookkeeping and accounting for SDSU and other companies. There she met a dashing Navy Ensign, Terry Ulaszewski at a Mission Bay beach party, fell in love and married a year later, on December 30, 1972. She was quintessential Navy Wife, making a new home for the family in Newport RI, Seattle, Idaho Falls, Philadelphia, Yokosuka, Japan, Pearl Harbor, and finally Long Beach CA. Along the way, two loving sons, Jeff and Brian were added to the family. (#1 great accomplishment). Because of his long ship deployments, Dr. Anna found herself in the additional role of father, auto mechanic, or home repair expert. Terry was always surprised when he came home from an operating period to find a room wallpapered or wall knocked out. Whether volunteering with the Red Cross, the Catholic chapel sacristan, the LSD Relief Society, or Navy Campus representative, Anna always believed in making the community a little better while we were there.
While earning her Master's in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from University of Hawaii, she worked at the state Environmental Center and was responsible for evaluating all state and federal environmental documents pursuant to the law. While at the Center, Dr Anna drafted legislation that ended a 10-year battle over water rights. For that she received recognition from Governor John Waihe'e and was present at the signing into law. (#2 great accomplishment). In true Rainbow Wahine Warrior Princess fashion, she passed her professional exam from American Institute of Certified Planners on her first attempt. She began her work career with Metcalf & Eddy, Pacific as their planner. She managed planning efforts for the Honolulu airport, Navy and Army Corp of Engineers, and Big Island hotel projects. Her favorite project was designing a "Fantasy Island" resort from scratch for Palmyra Island, in the middle of the Pacific. Her final position in Hawaii was as Environmental Coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu, where she worked for Mayor Frank Fasi.
In 1993, Anna began her career in Federal service at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard as an Environmental Planner and Natural Resource Officer. When the shipyard closure decision was made, she became the manager for the environmental closure, where she earned a reputation with the state and federal agencies as being experienced, innovative, transparent, and meticulous. (#3 great accomplishment). She was awarded the Navy Civilian Meritorious Service Award for her actions. After the turnover of the property to the Port of Long Beach, Anna started TAU Planning Group, an environmental planning company and had projects in Long Beach, San Diego and Oakland. She was active in Long Beach community and civic affairs, serving on the Red Cross Executive Board, the Long Beach Empowerment Zone Working Group, LBUSD Measure K Citizens' Oversight Committee, Community Development Advisory Commissions, and the Housing Development Company, as chairperson or member. Her favorite projects were the Senior Arts Colony housing and Palace Hotel, transitional housing for youth aging out of foster care. A graduate of Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership Program, she could point to trees she planted, alleys she cleaned and graffiti she removed in every section of Long Beach.
Several years ago, the county initiated Termino Drain Project to alleviate flooding issues. The proposal was to take the storm water runoff and flush it to the Colorado Lagoon. A small group of residents formed the Friends of Colorado Lagoon (FOCL) to stop the project. Dr. Anna along with two other ladies, a paralegal and an Audubon expert sat down the evening before the deadline and drafted a Writ of Mandate to stop the project based on unmitigated environmental issues. With the document in hand, and a few hundred dollars of pooled money from the residents to hire a lawyer to present the Writ in court, the drain project was stopped, and a more mitigated solution was finally proposed. That document has resulted in the restoration of the lagoon and the new improvements still planned. (#4 great accomplishment).
In 2014, Anna started her next bucket list item. In 2019 she defended her dissertation on drought planning and earned her PhD in Public Policy and the Law. A 4.0 student, she was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, International Public Administration Honor Society.
She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Terry, son Jeff, and son Brian, daughter-in-law, Dr Gina Wallar, and dear loving grandson Carter. She had three virtual children, Trish, Bill and Tom and feline companions Ernie and Issy. Meeting her at the Rainbow Bridge were Sam, Coco, Lucy, Kiki and her adoring Bel.
Anna was a master chef who had a rare talent of cooking by taste. She could envision in her mind the taste she wanted to achieve and add just the right ingredients to her creation to achieve a gourmet delight. Whether cooking an intimate dinner for two or a holiday feast for 25 or Neighborhood Leadership dinner for 50 participants, her dinners were "Michelin 5 Star."
In 1987, Dr Anna was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome. While being in constant pain, she fought bravely to overcome the physical challenges the disease presented. Her mental and emotional spirit hardened under daily battles to be active, steadfast and tenacious in what she wanted to accomplish in life. Overachievement and exceeding expectations were the minimum criteria she set for herself in any task she took on. Dr Anna passed away April 23, 2021 in the presence of her family.
The family wishes to thank Dr Howard Bland Jr., Optum Health - Seal Beach; Dr Kevin, Dr Arthur and Valerie of FirstCare Hospice; and Sensei NP Kiyoko, RN Eden, and RN Sherry and the WC team at Long Beach Memorial Hospital for their professional and compassionate care of Anna.
Services were private. Anna asks for no flowers, instead give flowers to someone you love or donate to your favorite charity
in her name. An awesome celebration of her life is planned after CV19 restrictions are lifted. Contact [email protected]
for information with your name and phone number.
She is free to sing the song of the windchimes and dance to the rhythm of the rain. Bless this day, for there are good deeds to be done.
Published by Gazette Newspapers from May 6 to May 14, 2021.