John Napoleon “Pat” Burk
To send flowers in memory of John Napoleon "Pat" Burk, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
22 December 1926 – 30 March 2019
John Napoleon “Pat” Burk passed in his sleep after a long and valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s on March 30, 2019 at the age of 92. John leaves behind his wife of 70 years, Gerda Burk, née Winter, of Oak Harbor, Washington. They previously resided in San Diego, California, and Avondale, Arizona.
Born December 22, 1926 in Tamaha, Oklahoma, John was the son of John Newton and Artie Mae Burk, née Dailey. During the Great Depression, his family left the Dust Bowl and moved to Arizona where his dad began building adobe houses, many of which are still standing. John attended Avondale Elementary, graduating the 8th grade and temporarily finishing formal schooling at 13 years of age.
At only 16 years old, he lied about his age and joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving honorably in many capacities, including as a Boatswain and Gunner’s Mate aboard the USS Watts (DD567) [as a Plankowner] and the USS Boyd (DD544) through the Korean Conflict.
After his service, John returned to schooling receiving his GED. He continued his education taking college courses in business in order to open and operate an archery range and shop “Bowman’s Hogan” in Phoenix, AZ. John eventually moved the business to Avondale to be closer to family. His trick archery skills were legendary as he used them in a local Wild West reenactment.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, John worked as a welder, ironworker, and in aluminum foundry castings. He owned Burk’s Custom Iron, creating beautiful wrought iron works that can still be found on homes in the Avondale area. He earned a pilot’s license for work and pleasure, which allowed convenient transport to remote worksites. He was also active with the Civil Air Patrol.
In the 1970s and ‘80s, John plied his trade at companies associated with the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, including serving as maintenance supervisor at the Prudhoe Bay oil field. He later retired from Pacific Shipyard in San Diego as a welder and pipefitter on June 16, 1997.
John enjoyed being active outdoors and was particularly fond of scuba diving, archery, fishing, and hunting. Growing up in a poor, large Irish family, he became a capable boxer; if only to survive rough-housing with much-older brothers whom he adored. An epic lover of living life to the fullest, he often came back from some adventure by the skin-of-his-teeth to tell the tales. And telling tales he did, as when he would eagerly recount yarns of the possibly fictitious “Yadamo” – which sounded suspiciously like the fabled Jackalope.
After retirement and never one to not be tinkering, John took up ornamental gardening, raising beautiful orchids as well as creating a green oasis in his back yard wherever he lived. John and Gerda, enjoyed vacationing in Hawaii, California, visiting family, and taking a once in a lifetime host trip to Japan. They spent many happy days hosting family and friends in their home, taking special joy in doting on the many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He passed on his love of the outdoors and archery, fishing, and hunting to his family whenever he got the chance.
John accomplished just about everything he put his mind to and will be remembered for being a man of many talents, a wonderful provider, self-made man, perfectionist, workaholic, a patriot, a man of integrity, creative, an inventor, a hero, adventurer, and a loving but demanding son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend.
John most recently was a member of the Oak Harbor Lutheran Church in Oak Harbor, WA and enjoyed being one of the Old Dogs-The Brotherhood of St. Bernard. Prior to that, he was a member of Tierra Santa Lutheran Church and Penasquitos Lutheran Church in San Diego, CA, and Christ Lutheran Church in Goodyear, AZ.
John is survived by "his little bride" Gerda Burk, née Winter; two daughters, Sonja Edwards of Michigan and DeAnna Hooker of California; a son, John Burk of Washington; 7 grandchildren, and 18 great grandchildren at last count. He was predeceased by his parents and his five siblings: Cecil “Red” Burk, Fannie Mae “Penny” Hakanson, Arthur “Mike” Burk, Chloe "Fern" Rogers, and Billy Don “Bill” Burk.
Sincere thanks are extended to Regency on Whidbey Harbor Care staff for their loving services provided to John and his family during his final years. The support of the Wallin Funeral Home staff these past couple of months is also greatly appreciated.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at the Oak Harbor Lutheran Church at 1253 NW 2nd Avenue. A reception will immediately follow the service. Interment will be held at a future date to be determined at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in memory of John to: Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, your church, or local law enforcement support services.