Crime

A Tacoma grandma was the pizza-shop mom. She was on a delivery when the fatal wreck happened

On one of Marianne Burton's last shifts at the pizza shop where she worked, the 60-year-old grandmother of two found herself dancing to music by Drake.

She hadn't known who the Canadian rap artist was, coworkers told Burton's family, but she liked the tunes.

"They seemed to be like a close family," Burton's daughter, Amber Falaschi, said about the Domino's Pizza at 8442 Pacific Ave.. in Tacoma.

unnamed (2).jpg
Marianne Burton Family courtesy photo

Burton died April 18 as she was making a pizza delivery, when a speeding driver crashed into her Prius, her family and investigators said.

After the wreck, Falaschi spoke with pizza shop's owner and a manager, who told her Burton was something like the store mom for her coworkers.

“I had a chance to talk to the owner of that location, and thanked him for the opportunity, the time that she spent there,” Falaschi said. “He said that it was really hard, obviously, on all of her coworkers, especially the younger ones. They really looked at her as a very motherly figure.”

Burton had worked at the shop since September or October. In part, it helped her make some money before retirement. It also partly helped stave off loneliness.

She saw her family often, but living alone could be isolating.

“It was just healing for her to have more people in her circle,” Falaschi said.

She also cleaned houses a few days a week, and was close with her clients, who were devastated to learn about the wreck, Falaschi said.

Those families and the pizza shop crew were welcome Friday at Burton's funeral at Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood.

The woman accused of causing the wreck, 25-year-old Win Gikonyo, has been charged with vehicular homicide.

Pierce County prosecutors said she was going more than 100 miles per hour when she hit Burton near McKinley Avenue East and 84th Street East. After the crasih, Gikonyo allegedly hissed, rolled around in the street and told investigators, "Life goes on."

Deputy prosecutor Tim Jones said in court April 20 that Gikonyo was in a "crisis cell" at the Pierce County Jail, and appeared to suffer from "severe mental health issues."

Defense attorney Michael Stewart agreed with that assessment, and Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered a mental health evaluation to determine whether Gikonyo is competent to stand trial.

"The entire Gikonyo family is devastated by what has happened," Stewart said after the hearing. "Their thoughts and prayers are with the Burton family at this time."

Burton is survived by her two children, two grandchildren, five siblings and her mother.

The family said Burton loved her family; her tabby cats, SarSar and Booter; and all things science fiction.

And she was proud of the four years she spent in the Air Force as a young woman, working on planes.

“To any family that loses someone, it’s personal,” said Burton's son, James Burton. “You’ve taken away a pillar of someone’s life, and you can’t just fill that in. ... She just loved.”

An example: Burton was a regular at her teenage granddaughter’s softball games, which made the first one following the wreck hard.

“At the end of the game she just broke down,” Falaschi said.

Both with family and at work, loved ones said Burton was cheerful.

The Domino's manager told Burton's family she would teasingly ask Burton why she was so happy, and jokingly tell her to stop.

To which Burton would laugh and say: "No."

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell
  Comments