Dr. David and Virginia Burden


David Burden


David Burden

David Burden was born in Africa on Sept 13, 1915 to parents working as medical missionaries. They named him David after the British explorer David Livingston. His parents returned to England when he was age seven. He studied medicine at Kings College at Cambridge.

An aversion to the attitudes of the Evangelical Christians he was exposed to in childhood led him to an interest in metaphysics and drugless therapies that included chiropractic and natural remedies.

David Burden immigration manifest

David Burden entered the United States in October 1, 1938 at the age of twenty three. He served as a radio operator in World War 2 and was present on the sixth day of the invasion of Normandy. He was married twice prior to marrying Virginia in California in 1949.

Together with Virginia, David Burden founded and was the principal face of Shimber Beris until it ceased to function in 1986 at which time he began the development of a reef off the coast of Belize where he planned to establish an extension of Shimber Beris. A hurricane changed his plans.

Dr. Burden professed to be outraged at any comparison between his operation and that of Jim Jones. His overall demeanor was one of an Englishman with a stiff upper lip who expresses his personal feelings in the most circumspect and modest manner.

David was one of four children. His older brother and sister continued in the church, but his younger brother John Burden became a well-known musician. John Burden played second horn during Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation, was first horn on countless classical recordings, with Georg Solti, Malcolm Sergeant, Josef Kripps, Andre Previn, Colin Davis and Malcolm Arnold among others. He performed on pop and rock songs, TV and film soundtracks including Black Beauty, The Avengers, the John Barry 007 scores (up to 1979), Henry Mancini's Pink Panther movies, plus scores for Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Dimitri Tiomkin, Bernard Herrmann, Maurice Jarre, Mikos Rozsa and Ron Goodwin, perhaps most famously with 633 Squadron, Battle of Britain and The Trap (otherwise known as the London Marathon theme). John also played and co-arranged The Beatles legendary Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band horn section in 1967.

David Burden passed away March 30, 2004 in Haverhill Massachusetts.

Letter to Virginia after school collapsed 1994


Virginia Burden

Virginia Burden

Virginia Burden Tower was born in Long Beach, California in 1919. She lived in Fresno and became a college level instructor of theater arts. She met David Burden in the late 1940's either in Washington DC or Long Beach where she had been working as recreations director for the Red Cross. After David and Virginia married they moved to Siskyou County to homestead and raise goats. There Virginia wrote a book titled The Process of Intuition.

The couple moved to Ojai not long after the birth of their first child. A second child who drowned in a pool at the age of two was born in Ojai. The younger child’s death seemed to spur the Burden’s pursuit of the school.

After the establishment of Shimber Beris Virginia focused on public relations, fund raising and new recruits. For much of the school’s history Mrs. Burden also functioned in the background as her husband’s private oracle channeling her various spirits for advice and direction. Much of what Shimber Beris became and how it appeared to the outside world was due to her influence. That is not to suggest that no conflicts existed between husband and wife. David Burden’s stringent ethics and rules generally overrode his wife’s more humanitarian impulses.

After helping her husband to run the school they founded, Virginia divorced him in 1980 due to a severe decline in their communication and his intention to marry a student thirty years his junior. Not long before her death she bemoaned all the support she had given David Burden to her daughter Daphne, proclaiming that in spite of her best intentions she had made him into nothing more than "a conceited ass."

Virginia died in California in 2008.

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