Some very sad news from Ian Norris from the English Church.
It is with very deep regret that I inform you of the death of Elisabeth Burca in hospital in Madeira yesterday afternoon (Thursday 3rd November 2022) at the age of 102 years.
Elisabeth was a lovely lady who lived an extraordinary, and long, life and was an avid supporter of the Royal British Legion and a member of the congregation of Holy Trinity Church, Funchal and she will be greatly missed by all of us.
Our sincere Condolences go to her Son, Marc, and all of the family and our prayers are with them all at this sad time.
There will be a private funeral next week and a memorial service at a date to be announced.
Elisabeth was an ambulance driver in the same regiment as the then young Princess Elizabeth, during the 2nd World War. She met her husband, Jean Burca, in Camberley, where he was a Captain in the Free French Forces, under General Gaulle.
They arrived in Madeira in 1957 by Union Castle boat, when her husband was appointed General Manager of the famous Reids Hotel by Graham and John Blandy. Elisabeth worked at the hotel for 14 years in charge of the hotel’s flowers and as a constant support to her husband when they entertained the hotel’s guests.
During the 1950’s Cuban crisis, the ex-president of Cuba, General Batista, escaped from Fidel Castro’s Communist dictatorship and fled to Madeira, living at Reids for over a year.
During the tragic sinking of the cruise ship, Lakonia, Elisabeth helped some of the survivors at Reids, lending them her own clothes and other essentials. As the wife of the manager it was her duty to entertain many of the hotel’s guests and celebrities. Some included (James Bond) Roger Moore, the wife of King Carol II of Romania, film star Sir Ralph Richardson, Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, Eurovision Song Contest winner Sandy Shaw, the would-be King of France the Duke of Paris, members of the Italian Royal family and politician Lord “Rab” Butler.
Elisabeth was always a supportive wife, helping Jean’s success at Reids from 1957-1969. They retired to Madeira following his career in France as the Director General of the George V and Plaza Hotels in Paris for Lord Forte and working for Baron Elie de Rothschild’s PLM hotel chain in Paris and Biarritz. Elisabeth lived in Garajau, east of Funchal.