Charles "Leo" Burks
October 29, 1933 - November 20, 2020
Richland, Washington - Charles "Leo" Burks went to meet his maker on November 20, 2020, surrounded by his beloved wife and two precious daughters…and all the love their hearts could hold. His death was marked by the same fighting spirit with which he lived his life. Leo battled heroically and held on for as long as he possibly could, his last testament of the purest and truest love for his three girls and everyone he loved. He was still looking out for others as he had always done.
Leo was a compassionate, down-to-earth, generous man who never knew a stranger. He loved meeting new people and would strike up a conversation whenever and wherever, knowing a person's life story in a matter of minutes. It was a rare and endearing trait. One such stranger commented that the world would be a much better place if there were more people like Leo in it.
Born on October 29, 1933, to Samuel Owen Burks and Edith (Moore) Burks in McCredie, MO, Leo was the middle brother of seven boys. They were raised predominantly by their dearest mother during a time of great scarcity, relying on the generosity of family and community to make ends meet. In his youth, he worked odd jobs bailing hay and delivering newspapers to a P.O.W. camp in Illinois. The hardship and toil of his early life helped shape him into a humble, thoughtful, hard-working, respectable man of faith and character, and forged an unbreakable and life-long bond among the Burks Brothers.
Leo attended one-room country schools through the seventh grade and graduated from VIT High School in Table Grove, IL, where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was editor of the school newspaper, secretary of his class council, graduated fourth in his class, and even dabbled in theater. He maintained close ties to his classmates "back home" and attended his 50th class reunion -- a highlight in his life.
Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during post World War II occupation of Germany and, because of his strong engineering aptitude, was selected to train and work in microwave radio communications. Leo was especially proud of this work and the time he spent serving his country while stationed in France and Germany. He once was awarded a weekend pass for keeping his boots shined and his barracks impeccable.
After his time in the military, Leo joined his family in Richland, WA, and worked at the Hanford Site (G.E.) for one year. He then decided to work with his brothers at service stations in Moses Lake and Richland. The Burks Brothers were well known in the early days and eventually owned several Texaco and Conoco stations in the Tri-Cities. It was a time when "full service" included a spotless window cleaning, fluid and air check, and kids were given lollipops. During this period, Leo met his true love, Nancy "Dolores" Tracy, after she caught his eye at the VFW. They married in 1961 and had two daughters. Theirs is a story of love and devotion that lasted for 59 years. Together they purchased a Conoco station on Sylvester St. in Pasco, WA, where Leo spent most of his career. He had many loyal customers, several of whom became life-long friends. After retiring from the service station business, he began a new venture with his brothers in the apple business. They owned several acres and enjoyed farming together.
At home, Leo took great pride in maintaining a beautiful yard and garden, which were the envy of the neighborhood. He also loved to cook and host barbecues and family get-togethers. He spent many weekends relaxing in the kitchen where he perfected and stretched his culinary skills. Some of his specialties included homemade beef jerky and pretzels, fried green tomatoes and perch, corned beef, pork tenderloin sandwiches, fried chicken, and we can't forget his delicious spaghetti, oyster dressing, and German Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake! His other true passion was fishing. He loved spending time at Scootney and the Potholes Reservoir (O'Sullivan Dam), enjoying fun times and creating life-long memories with family and friends. The gang once stayed up until 2:00 a.m. cleaning over 300 perch in preparation for a huge fish fry. Leo was full of energy and always up for having fun. One of his greatest joys in life was being a dad and grandpa. Family was his life.
Leo leaves behind a loving family including his beloved wife Dolores and daughters Julie (Scott) Colby and Lisa (Julian) Laurenz of Richland, WA; grandchildren Sean (Kathleen) Colby, Nick (Katie) Colby, and Gabi Laurenz whom he loved more than anything; his brothers Frank (Sharon) and Russ; sister-in-law Shirley Burks; brother-in-law Jim Bill; and many nieces and nephews and their children who will carry on the Burks legacy. Leo was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Don, Bob, Bill, and Wally; in-laws Fred and Eura Tracy; brother-in-law Robert Tracy; and sisters-in-law Barbara (Tracy) Bill and Barbara Burks.
A viewing will be held on Friday, Dec. 4, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., a memorial service by invite (due to COVID) from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. (which will also be live streamed via Einan's website), followed by a public burial and military salute at Einan's Sunset Gardens. The family invites you to share your memories in the online guest book at www.einansatsunset.com
You were a truly great man who will be deeply missed. You would give the shirt off your back to anyone in need; life here on earth will not be the same without you. Sleep tight. We love you.