William E. “Bill” Burrus Jr.

Chairman of the Board, Sight Savers America

Sight Savers America lost an incredible friend and champion for children’s eye care in the summer of 2020.

William E. “Bill” Burrus passed away on July 7, 2020, at the age of 94. He was known for his spectacular smile, warm heart, positive outlook, generous nature, and let’s not forget…a wardrobe of MANY colors. People who knew Bill well often described him as “the nicest person I ever met.” He was devout in his faith, loved to dance and loved helping people, especially children in need of eye care. He was blessed with good health and an abundance of energy until his last year. He loved life and lived it well!

Bill served as a Sight Savers America board member since our inception and was our Chairman of the Board until 2019, leading for over a decade. Under his leadership and dedication to our mission, we expanded to serving almost 100,000 children every year.

He was such a gift. We miss him greatly.


To learn more about Bill’s incredible life, enjoy this article…

Artist:  Mary Dignan

Mary Dignan was born in 1954 with Usher syndrome, an inherited disease typified by deafness at birth and blindness later in life from retinitis pigmentosa, or RP.   She earned an undergraduate degree in 1976 from Santa Clara University and a law degree with honors in 1994 from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.  Her career in agriculture and water resources management policy includes newspaper reporting, federal and state legislative work, public relations and governmental liaison work, and water and environmental law.

After brain tumor surgery in 1997, she retired from her legal practice and began practicing mosaic art.  Her work has been shown at San Francisco City Hall,  Canadian Helen Keller Centre in Toronto, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors chambers, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, Sacramento County Law Library, Sacramento Society for the Blind, and various other public and private venues.  She has shared her mosaic technique with sighted, blind and deaf-blind students in the US, Canada and India.

Her community service includes six years on the Disability Advisory Committee to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, more than a decade with Bread of Life and Spirit in the Arts (www.breadoflife.org), and five years as president of the Sacramento Chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness.  She is presently a member of the Sacramento Embarcadero Lions Club.