City Remembers Legacy of Former Arlington Council Representative and Environmentalist Julia Burgen
By Office of Communications
Posted on October 05, 2023, October 05, 2023

Julia Burgen

The City of Arlington pauses today to reflect on the life and legacy of former City Council Representative Julia Burgen, well-known for her lifelong commitment to environmental preservation in North Texas.

Mrs. Burgen, who served three terms on the Arlington City Council from 1997 to 2003, died Oct. 4 at age 89.

She was born April 11, 1934, to parents Robert and Julia Sanford. After graduation from Hillcrest High School in 1951, she attended Southern Methodist University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1956, which is the same years she married Jack Gilbert Burgen. Together, they had three daughters, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

After the early years of child-rearing, Mrs. Burgen began a lifelong commitment to environmental preservation in North Texas, beginning with the Texas Committee on Natural Resources. She was a key part of the Arlington Conservation Council and the MPAC Women’s Political Action Committee, as well as actively supporting numerous other groups and causes. During this time, she also earned a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from The University of Texas at Arlington, focusing on education and science.

Her tireless work to develop greenspace to effectively accommodate flooding along Johnson Creek in Arlington was successful after years of effort. In 1995, she was recognized with the Sierra Club’s Environmentalist of the Year award for the State of Texas and the City of Arlington also dedicated a 66-acre linear park along Johnson Creek in her name in 2017.

 “Julia was an exceptional woman of grace and commitment to causes to protect and enhance nature. I had the honor of sharing a city council office with her when I was first elected. She inspired me, mentored me, and educated me and we became dear friends. Her invaluable service to the Arlington community and to the State of Texas cannot be overstated,” said former City Council Representative Sheri Capehart, who said MPAC will plant a tree in Julia Burgen Park in her memory. “Julia was an intelligent woman and a force for nature and could not be ignored. I will miss her greatly.”

 Mrs. Burgen was recognized with numerous awards, including the Texas Recreation and Parks Society Individual Award in 1989, the Southwest Region of National Recreation and Park Association Award in 1989, Arlington AAUW Outstanding Woman of the Year in 1994, the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in 1995, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club Evelyn Edens Award in 1996, the League of Women Voters of Texas Individual Award for Excellence in Environmental Awareness in 1996, the Arlington-Star Telegram Woman of the Year in 1996, and the National Delta Gamma Shield Award in 2011.

 After her tenure on the Arlington City Council, Mrs. Burgen continued serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Parks Bond Committee for several years. She remained dedicated to preservation of habitat and ecosystems throughout her life, family members said. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for friends to consider donating to the pollinator garden project at Julia Burgen Park, Arlington, Texas through Green Arlington Foundation, P.O. Box 264, Arlington, TX 76004-0264, referencing Pollinator Patch in JBP.

 Mrs. Burgen was preceded in death by Jack, her husband of 64 years. Click here to learn more about Mrs. Burgen’s life and funeral arrangements.

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