Thomas J. Burks, 80, of Buchanan

Published 11:27 am Thursday, August 22, 2013

Born: Dec. 12, 1932

Died: Aug. 19 2013

Buchanan — Thomas J Burks of Buchanan, Mich., died peacefully at his home following an extended illness on Monday, Aug. 19.



He was born Dec. 12, 1932 in Berrien Center to Jack and Bessie (Neal) Burks and had been a lifelong resident of Buchanan. On Nov. 29, 1952 he married the former Lois Jean Purucker and spent nearly 61 years together in Buchanan, raising their family, volunteering in the community, and enjoying time spent with family and friends.

When Tom was a young man he worked at the High Grade Oil station and for Walt Ross’ filling station. Tom also worked for the Buchanan Police Department for one year. He then was employed at Clark Equipment until they closed operations in Buchanan. At that time he worked at Gast Manufacturing in Benton Harbor until he retired in 1994.

He was a volunteer firefighter, serving on the Buchanan Fire Department for 30 years, 25 of which were as assistant chief. Tom was a U.S Army veteran, serving in Austria during the Korean conflict. He was a 52-year member of the Buchanan Moose Lodge 449 and a 25-year member of the American Legion Post #51 in Buchanan.

Tom and his family enjoyed spending time together camping every summer, fishing, swimming, campfires and practical jokes. He also enjoyed time with family and friends up north hunting, fishing and mushrooming.

Tom enjoyed spending time with his many friends in the Buchanan area. In the early 1970s, on a cold Autumn afternoon, Tom and a few of his friends decided to cook up a pot of beans in the backyard. This soon turned into a yearly tradition, and has grown into an event held at the Moose Lodge every March that has been attended by hundreds of area residents.

Tom was a 30-year member of the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department, who along with his now deceased brother Neal, holds a rich family tradition. His son Mike and grandsons Corey and Chris all followed in his footsteps. In the fall of 2012, Tom was honored to dedicate the Fireman Memorial Bell in Buchanan.

Tom and Lois both volunteered many hours of their time to various community events and activities in Buchanan. In September 2005, they were recognized by the Buchanan City Commission for all their contributions in making life better in Buchanan over the years.

Tom is survived by his loving wife Lois; son Michael and Carmen (Green) Burks of Niles; daughter Karen (Dave) Carvell of Portage; and son Brian and Gail (Mallett) Burks of Battle Ground, Wash. Seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers William and Neal Burks, a sister Jackie Montgomery, and a half brother Robert Payne.

Tom will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and as a man who loved his country and community as well.

Visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 at Hoven Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held with Pastor Dave Mitchell officiating at 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 also at Hoven Funeral Home. Tom will be laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan with full military rites conducted by American Legion Post #51. A celebration of Life will be held at American Legion Post #51 following the burial.

The family requests memorial contributions be made to the Huntington Disease Society of America Michigan Chapter, Att: Deb Boyd PO box 72 Richland, MI 49083 or Hospice at Home Inc. 4025 Healthpark Lane St. Joseph, MI 49085.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Hoven Funeral Home, online condolences may be made at