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Widowed car dealer Christine Burd becomes mental health advocate

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It’s a role for Christine Burd that she likely never envisioned before Nov. 10, 2009.

That’s when her husband, Richard, with whom she operated Burd Ford, in Lawrence, committed suicide. He was 43.

Burd, who is president of Burd Ford, a mother of four, and a fixture on television commercials for the dealership, has become an advocate for mental health. She recently was appointed to the board of Mental Health America of Indiana, the state’s oldest and largest health and addiction network.

Philanthropy Christine Burd has become a mental health advocate. The owner of Burd Ford lost her husband to suicide last year. (IBJ File Photo)

“Her family’s personal story of courage will bring a new perspective to our board and help thousands of Hoosiers better understand our mission and the importance of suicide prevention,” said Stephen McCaffrey, president and CEO of MHAI.

Last month, at a mental health symposium at Union Station, Burd made her first public comments about her loss. Burd said she and Richard, who were high school sweethearts, spent upward of $8 million on a new store, which is among the largest in the region. But it opened soon before the economy collapsed. The couple saw their $1.2 million nest egg disappear in 18 months.

Burd said her husband was a devoted father, sacrificing time he could have spent with friends to be with his children. He mistakenly thought suicide was the only way out to continue to provide for them.

“He truly believed he was doing what was right for us,” she told the audience. “I wish he would have understood we needed him, not the money.”

Burd and her sons have carried on the business with help from friends and employees who’ve rallied to their support.

“I am anxious to begin advocating on behalf of Hoosiers to ensure that they receive the education, support and emotional help that they need,” she said.

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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