CENTERVILLE — Everything’s easier if you do it together.
Birgit Burnett, Centerville’s mother of the year, was on her own when she migrated to Utah from Denmark at the age of 19. Years later she has a loving husband, eight children, 44 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and the kind of neighbors who made the process easier.
“We didn’t raise them all ourselves,” said Burnett. “We had some really good neighbors to help us along the way.”
Though she has lived in Centerville since 1965, it’s possible to still hear the traces of Denmark in Burnett’s voice. She emigrated from the country in 1950 after joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It was a challenge, but it was something I was impelled to do,” she said. “Being a member of the church wasn’t that easy over there, in those days. You couldn’t go to the temple or do the things you wanted to do.”
After she arrived, she stayed with the Clark family in Morgan County for two years. It was there she met her husband, who then whisked her off to Kansas when he took a job with the Air Force. It was there that the couple had their first two children.
“(Being a mother) is very fulfilling,” she said. “You love to see the children grow up and accomplish things in their lives.”
Not that things were always easy.
“They had some challenges, and we had some challenges,” she said. “But in the end, it all worked out.”
The growing family moved back to Utah then onto California before returning to Utah for the last time. Though the family intended to purchase a home in Salt Lake City, things didn’t work out that way.
“Somehow, we ended up here,” said Burnett. “Centerville is a really good place to live.”
In addition to supportive neighbors, her favorite feature about the city is how close the mountains are.
“I come from a flat country, and I just love them,” she said.
Though her family has spread out across the country, Centerville still serves as home base for all of them. The family has Thanksgiving together every other year – alternate years are spent with in-laws – and Birgit and her husband Kent hold a Christmas party every December 23.
“We had 83 people last year,” said Burnett. “We just all try to get together when we can.”
Whenever that happens, she makes sure to enjoy it.
“The best advice is to just enjoy your children as people,” said Burnett. “If they’re happy, you’re happy