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Bill Eugene Burk

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BILL EUGENE BURK, 75, Good Evening columnist at the Memphis Press-Scimitar when the newspaper closed in 1983, passed away April 24, 2008, at Baptist Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. He was a graduate of South Side High School (1949) and Memphis State University (1958). He worked at Clover Farm Dairy, United Press International and Memphis Mirror before joining the Press-Scimitar in 1957. Bill was a gifted writer and a man of many, many talents and accomplishments. An experienced pilot, who was active in aviation circles, he founded PROPWASH magazine, which was read by pilots all over the U.S. When Elvis Presley died, Bill covered the event with his usual newsman’s tenacity and sense for “the story” nonstop for a week with little sleep, and after the Press-Scimitar closed, he became prominent in the Elvis world and founded and published ELVIS WORLD magazine, which had a worldwide readership. He authored 13 books, most of them about Elvis Presley, whom Bill first came to know in his role as a reporter and with whom he developed a friendship. He also contributed to 21 other books. In addition, he was a prolific free lance writer on many different topics. He co-hosted sports shows on Memphis radio stations WWEE and WMPS. He appeared on several television news shows and the Route 66 TV series; he also appeared in five movies and was a member of the Screen Actors Guild. During his long and varied career, Bill was Sports Information Director, Memphis State University; Public Information Officer, Air National Guard; Vice President & President, Sunbelt Public Relations Affiliates; and Public Relations/Advertising Agent for Memphis area aviation dealers. He lectured to journalism students at Memphis State University. He was Tennessee UPI Columnist of the Year twice; Scripps-Howard Columnist of the Month three times, the first journalist to win the Memphis Convention & Visitors Award and Memphis Hotel & Sales Managers Award. He served in the Air Force and retired a Lieutenant Colonel from the Tennessee Air National Guard and saw tours of duty in Korea, Vietnam and Central America. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal in 1969 and was the first winner of the National Guard’s Minuteman Award. After a childhood and youth as an accomplished athlete in baseball, basketball and football, he enjoyed coaching various middle-school sports at St. Paul School, Graves Elementary and various others in addition to summer leagues. Bill enjoyed traveling the world and was an avid photographer. He was preceded in death by his parents Ernest Coy and Virginia Josephine Burk, his sister Carolyn Hopper, and his son Michael Burk. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Connie Burk; former wife and friend, Frances Burk; his sons Gary Burk (Shirley) of Bella Vista, AR, Randy Burk of Horn Lake, MS, and daughter, Jennifer Royds (Paul) of Fort Lauderdale, FL; and eight grandchildren, Scott Burk, Travis Burk, Hannah Burk, Madison Willis, Megan Royds, Jesse Burk, Jessica Burk and Zachary Burk. Visitation will be from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, April 27, with funeral services 1 p.m., Monday, April 28, both at Memphis Funeral Home Poplar Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN. Memphis Funeral Home Poplar 901-725-0100
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Apr. 26, 2008
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