Ardell (Dell) Adams Burton Little was born Nov. 25, 1923, to Willie and Essie Mae Adams in Sylvania, Alabama. The third of 11 children, she became the first of her family to graduate from high school (Geraldine H.S. Class of 1945). She left Sand Mountain and worked in Anniston. With money she saved from her job, Dell put herself through secretarial school in Nashville. She then returned to Anniston where she met the first love of her life, William S. (Bill) Burton, an optometrist. 

They married in 1952, started a family and moved around Alabama a bit before settling in Tallassee, Alabama, in 1958, where Dr. Burton opened his optometry practice. After a few years as a stay-at-home mom, Dell began working as her husband’s assistant and made many friends among his patients. 

During these years, she managed the office, the home and the busy lives of her family. She cooked, cleaned, sewed and made sure that everyone was at church on Wednesday evenings and twice on Sundays. In 1987, a few years after Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, they closed the optometry practice and retired. For a brief period of time, Dell worked part-time as a DJ on WTLS in Tallassee (despite knowing nothing about country music). 

As her husband’s disease progressed, Dell devoted herself to caring for him until his death in 1995. The following year she found the second love of her life, Bennie G. Little. Dell and Bennie married in 1998 and spent the next decade enjoying life together. When Bennie became ill, Dell nursed him until his death in 2014. In 2016, at the age of 92, she sold the family home of 44 years and moved to Opelika to be near family. There she made many new friends at church, Farmville Baptist, at Silver Sneakers exercise classes at Sportsplex, at Women’s Bible Study at First Baptist Church and in her neighborhood. 

She is survived by her daughters, Vannessa Rogers (Mike), Leah Stonum (Mel Drybread), Marilyn Fisher (Sam); stepson, Ben Little (Peggy); grandchildren, John Dunson (Napawan), Rachel Fournier, Roxanne Albers, Ben Fisher, Jacob Fisher, Brooke Little, Wesley Rogers (Janet) and Jessica Stonum, and great-grandchildren, Barrett Purohit and Orgrand Dunson; two sisters, Bobbie Jean Gibson and Lynn Laney (Larry) and a host of nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband of 43 years, Dr. William S. Burton and her husband of 16 years, Bennie G. Little Sr. and her parents, Willie and Essie Mae Adams. 

The family received friends Dec. 3 at Jeffcoat Funeral Home Chapel. Burial followed in Rose Hill Cemetery.


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