Aug. 26--TransIT Services is mourning the loss of former director Sherry Burford.
Burford spent 20 years as director of the county's public transportation service before retiring in 2012.
During her time at the helm, ridership nearly quadrupled, according to a news release from the system, and TransIT won several awards.
Burford was also key in implementing two-way route service, adding Mobile Data Terminals to the paratransit fleet and securing funding for two hybrid buses.
Black bands will be on TransIT vehicles over the next week in honor of Burford, who died Thursday. She was 60 and had ovarian cancer.
"She was very smart and organized. She was a great mentor. She shared her knowledge with everybody here," TransIT Services director Nancy Norris said in a phone interview.
Norris worked with Burford for 13 years.
The former director always motivated her employees to do their best, Norris said, adding that she learned much from Burford.
"She taught me about the budget and how to request funding and do the grant applications and all of the regulations that are a part of that," Norris said. "She was very supportive and had a great sense of humor, and she was fun to work with."
Burford was also adept at working with the county commissioners and managing a budget.
"TransIT was over budget and that never happened again under her watch," Norris said.
Jan Gardner, who served on the Board of County Commissioners while Burford was director of TransIT Services, described her as a good leader.
"I also found Sherry to be a kind and generous person," Gardner said. "She cared about others, she was well-liked by staff; she was well-liked by the commissioners."
Gardner visited Burford while she was ill and even then, Gardner said, the former director seemed more interested in talking about others than about herself.
Burford's husband, Marc Burford, said she had a passion for her work.
"It starts out as a job and then it became a vocation," he said. "It became sort of a passion for her to help the community."
She also had a wide variety of interests outside of her job, he said, including quilting.
Burford said his wife had participated in several volunteer opportunities over the years, including at the Maryland Zoo. However, she wasn't the type to broadcast her service work, he said.
"She liked the light to reflect on other other people."
Burford remembered his wife as a very helpful person, with a good relationship with the neighbors. "Quiet helpfulness" was a strong part of her character, he said.
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