John Roland Burback

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. John Roland Burback, 69, of Virginia Beach, Va., died from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases Friday, Nov. 2, at Atlantic Shores-Seaside Peace Hospice.

A memorial service was held in Virginia Beach.

He fought a hard fight, but his Lord and Savior called him home.

John was born Aug. 18, 1943, in a log cabin in Townsend, with the help of a midwife. John's father worked on the railroad and the family traveled the Hi-Line rails of Montana for 12 years. The family finally settled in Great Falls in 1954. John attended Largent Elementary for one year, then junior high and high school in Great Falls; he graduated from Great Falls High school in 1962 with high honors.

After graduation, John entered the service, enlisting in the U. S. Navy, and served ten years. He also served ten years in the U.S. Coast Guard. He liked being able to experience the way both the Navy and Coast Guard operated by being stationed on both coasts, plus at two Gulf of Mexico naval air stations. He completed submarine training at New London and Groton, Conn. After submarine training, he was selected for nuclear power training at different bases across the United States. He served on board the USS Enterprise (first nuclear powered aircraft carrier) and the USS Long Beach (first nuclear powered cruiser). He was the leading nuclear power engineer on both vessels. In 1966, while aboard the USS Long Beach, the fleet was part of the Cuban Blockade to stop missiles from entering Cuba. Later, during 1967 and 1968, he was stationed in Vietnam as a machinists mate to work on numerous ships propulsion systems.

While assigned in Washington, D.C., with the Navy, John was attached with the Washington DC Police Department as a liaison. He also was involved with numerous military functions, both around Washington, D.C., and with the Arlington National Cemetery. He and his family traveled throughout the world. John retired in 1983 as a chief warrant officer second grade from the United States Coast Guard. After he retired, he worked for the Quality Engineering Department, Newport News Naval Shipyard. He also was a warrants process server for the county of Virginia Beach city.

He was married May 10, 1969, to Dolores Helen Connell from St. Petersburg, Fla. They met at a USO club in Oakland Calif., and were married shortly thereafter. John and his new bride moved to Norfolk, Va., with the military and made this their home.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years and their sons, Joseph (Nancy) Burback of Gretna, La., and James (Stacy) Burback and their children, Sydney and Grant of Fort Mill, S.C. He was the eldest son of the late John and Ruffina Beyl Burback of Great Falls. An older sister, Jane Rachel Burback, preceded John in death. John's surviving siblings are Joann (John) Earhart of Spokane and their sons, Jason and Jordan; Jerry (Treacie) Burback of Great Falls and their daughters, Julianne and Jennifer; and Jean Burback of East Helena and her sons, Eli Stephens and Caleb (Angie) Stephens.

He was an active member of the Haygood United Methodist Church, serving as a leader of the Men's Worship Club and teaching Friendship Bible Class. He was an avid bowler and was active in the chapter of the Norfolk Bowling Association. Through the bowling association, John arranged bowling tournaments all around the United States for the National Association of Bowlers. He loved to play golf and always talked about his holes-in-one. He participated in two pool leagues and enjoyed bridge.

Most of all, John loved the Lord, his family and adored his grandchildren.

Condolences may be posted online at

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Nov. 7, 2012
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