The Burton Bittman label is inspired by two strong women who created two strong families. Their perseverance and independent spirits are foundational to the Burton Bittman vision.
Born in Portland Oregon, Kay (Grandma) attended Lincoln High School and was an editor for the newspaper and yearbook. It was her dream to become a journalist. However, as many women of the era, Kay was not encouraged to pursue higher education. Instead, she went on to become successful in other areas of her life, working for the Jantzen swimwear company and eventually owning her own Sears catalogue store. She never lost her tenacity, and always encouraged her granddaughters to pursue their dreams in ways that she was never allowed to pursue hers. She was so proud to be a part of all her grandchildren’s lives. She loved her family fiercely, yet exactly how a grandmother should love, gently. In her retirement years, Kay was chairwoman of the local fire district board of directors on Crooked River Ranch and saw a brand new fire station built during her tenure. She taught herself to knit and surrounded herself with new friends in a knitting circle. Everyone’s bellies were top of mind for her. She aspired to create occasions to get everyone together, and then to feed everyone. It is said that a winemaker has maybe 50 vintages in her lifetime. Each one is unique, each one is challenging. Just as there will never be another 2013 vintage, there will never be another woman like my Grandma.
Reflections by her daughter Kathy: When we have children, we leave part of ourselves in the world forever. We accomplish this in what we teach and model as parents, and by what we give to friends, to those in need, and sometimes to perfect strangers. Mary Bittman was a role model of inner strength, grace, and generosity. She left her legacy with her daughter in her intensity and her desire for perfection in both work and in her concern for giving to others less fortunate. Once a migrant Hispanic family broke down on the side of I-5 outside our small California town. They had no money, and so, my mother helped. She literally gave the mother of the family her shoes off her feet because the woman needed them. Mary left her legacy with her granddaughters. She loved the piano, taught herself how to play and as an adult played the organ in mass each week. I have seen my mother’s fingers as I’ve watched Anneka’s hands on the piano keys. She moved through the world with a strong spirit and determination. I’ve watched Hannah move with the same inner strength and determination in her work and as a student athlete. Part of ourselves leaves the physical world when we die, but our spirit lives on through those who have been touched by our life. It is up to all of us to pass on these positive strengths to those in the world around us.