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Monday, January 21, 2019

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After retiring, Little traveled all over the world with her sons. After retiring, Little traveled all over the world with her sons.

In Memoriam: Sherry Burgus Little

The former associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters was one of the “founding mothers” of SDSU's Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies.
By SDSU News Team

Sherry Burgus Little, former associate dean of San Diego State University’s College of Arts and Letters, died Oct. 20 after a long illness. She was 78.

Little dedicated her life to education. She joined the SDSU family in 1979 as a lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and became a full professor in 1993. She served as department chair from 2002 to 2007; associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters, from 2007 to 2009; and continued teaching part-time until 2012.

Little was an early pioneer and leader in the fields of rhetoric and technical and professional communication. She was one of the “founding mothers” of SDSU's Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, and created and ran the university's scientific and technical communication program.

Early years

Little was born Sherry Burgus in Osceola, Iowa on July 31, 1937. She was the second of six siblings including sisters Sandy, Sonya, Stephanie and Sheila, and brother Steve.

Her mother Frances, a schoolteacher, shaped her commitment to education.

The family moved to Arizona where Little graduated at the top of her high school class and went on to Arizona State University, earning a Ph.D in modern British and American literature.

It was in Arizona where she met her husband, Richard Lee Little. 

The family matriarch

Outside of work, Little was deeply devoted to her family. She and her husband had three sons, David, Benjamin and Spencer; and a daughter, Megan.

Richard and David both died suddenly in the early 1990s and Little became the family matriarch.

She had three grandchildren—Brittany Roberts, Richard Pinnick and Kai Williams. 

Travel bug

Little was reluctant to retire because she was so devoted to her career. She changed her mind a few years ago when she decided she needed to travel and see the world while she still had time to enjoy it.

She traveled with her sons to Paris, Dublin, Istanbul, and Greece. In retirement, she explored new interests including yoga, tai chi and flower arranging.

She also enjoyed spending time with her friends and close colleagues from SDSU, especially her writing group and past students from her technical writing days.

Sharing memories

Little’s family has created a memorial website where friends and loved ones can share photos and memories celebrating her life.

A memorial service will be held at Glen Abbey in Bonita on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m., followed by a reception in El Cajon. Additional information and directions can be found on the website.

Since Little’s life was devoted to education, her family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to Teach for America.