urch, 88, of Portales will be at 2:00 PM, Friday, December 7, 2012, at the University Baptist Church with Rev. Steve Smith officiating, assisted by Rev. Wesley McAfee and Stanley Martin. Burial will follow in the Portales Cemetery with John Curtis Noffsker, Kenny Bouse, Rob Burch, Rick Russell, Kris Strickland, Steve Strickland, Chris Garcia, and Lester Parrish serving as pallbearers.
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Leroy Benjiman Burch, known to many family and friends as "Pee Wee," was born February 27, 1924, in Melrose. He was one of twelve children born to the home of Cora and Dennie Burch, He died at his home west of Portales on December 4, 2012. The family moved to House when Leroy was a small boy. He lived there until going into the Navy on August 10, 1943, to serve in the South Pacific aboard the USS Charlotte Cushman as a Signalman 3rd Class during World War II. He was also the unofficial ship's barber. His total income from the Navy during the War was about $2,000, but he made more money from cutting hair. What he made from his paycheck, he sent home, but the barbering money he saved to buy cattle when he got home.
After the War, Leroy worked in Texas with some friends until 1948 when he came to Melrose to farm with his sister and brother-in-law. It was there that he met Geraldine Boyd, and they were married on December 22, 1949, at the First Baptist Church in Clovis. They moved to Fields where he farmed and ran a dairy. Later they moved north of Clovis where they lived for about two years. Throughout his life, Leroy always supplemented his income by doing carpentry work. In 1956, he moved to a farm west of Portales where he lived until his death. For about 25 years, Leroy also did custom combining. He was never still, and worked to the very end. He already had jobs lined up for next month.
He loved horses. All of his life he kept horses until about a year ago when he finally gave up his last horse and gave it to one of his grandsons.
Leroy was an independent man, and did things his own way. Through the years he had suffered various mishaps, such as falling off of roofs. Once he even blew up a trash barrel and in the process blew his shirt off. He had worked construction jobs of all kinds, building churches as well as houses, dormitories, etc. When Sivell's Youth Camp was being built, Leroy was one of the first to volunteer.
Leroy was a devout Christian, and was active in church his entire life. He came from a singing family. They sang every time they were together. He led singing in churches all of his life. For fourteen years he went to Clovis every Sunday to lead singing at one of the rest homes. His wife found him sitting in his chair singing "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" the night before he died. He read his Bible every night. Leroy loved life, but he loved the Lord even more!
He is survived by Geraldine, his wife of nearly 63 years of their home; a son, Denny Burch of Portales; a daughter and son-in-law, Brenda and Billy Howard of Talihina, OK; three grandchildren, Lydia (Bryan) Dobbins, Stephenie (Joe) Madrid, and Rachael (Michael) Phillips; eight great-grandchildren, Ashley, Aaron and Amber Dobbins, Brettenie Burch, Joe and Courtnie Madrid and Troy and Tory Phillips; three brothers, Michael Burch of Albuquerque, Johnny Burch of NV, and Harvey Burch of Pagosa Springs, CO; and three sisters, Myrtle Noffsker of Encheleum, WA, Juanita McBride of Albuquerque, and Shirley Snyder of Big Spring, TX.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Herbert and Horace Burch, and three sisters, Setha Bouse, Edna Mae Penick, and Virginia Strickland.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wheeler Mortuary of Portales.,575-356-4455, wheelermortuary.net
Published in the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune on Dec. 6, 2012