Ted Wilton Burks was born December 6, 1930 in Okmulgee, OK, to parents C.R. Burks and Edith Middaugh Burks. His family moved to Henryetta, OK, where he enjoyed playing on the high school football team as a running back. After high school, Ted served his country as a proud member of the Navy during the Korean War. He served on the USS Epping Forest. He received an Honorable Discharge in 1954 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Service Ribbon (Four Stars). Ted had many stories from his years of service and told of being part of a mission to capture a downed MIG fighter behind enemy lines. After the war, Ted went to Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in Engineering. Upon graduation, Ted moved to Muskogee, OK, where he met the one great love of his life, Mary Sue Varnell. Ted and Sue were married in 1958 and had a daughter, Tanya Sue Ward. The family then moved to Oklahoma City, OK, where Ted worked for Oklahoma Natural Gas for almost 30 years. After years of hard work, Ted became the Commercial Marketing Manager for the Western half of Oklahoma. Ted was an avid golfer, camper, boater, and fisherman. Ted and Sue were members of the Muskogee Boat Club for many years, and Ted’s favorite activities revolved around taking his family camping and fishing on the weekends. However much he enjoyed his hobbies, Ted’s true joy in life was found by being a husband and father. He proudly attended his daughter’s softball games and never missed a school or church activity. Ted was an involved member of the Masonic Lodge, achieving the rank of 32nd degree Mason. He was also an active member of the United Methodist Church. He served on multiple committees and enjoyed mission work in Mexico and New Mexico. After Ted retired in 1991, he and Sue moved to a home on Ft Gibson Lake, that they built for themselves. Ted would laughingly state that he bought a book “How to Build a House” and started from there. Ted was very active in the Ft. Gibson United Methodist Church, serving as a Trustee and helping to build an addition to the church. While in his 60’s, Ted helped install the heating and air conditioning into the new church building. Ted and Sue were also active with the Muskogee Red Cross. Ted drove an Emergency Response Vehicle, delivering food and supplies to disaster sites from coast to coast, across the United States. Through it all, Ted and Sue were inseparable. Sue was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Ted cared for her every day, for eight years, in their home. Every day Ted would dress and feed his wife, and do her hair and makeup because, “She always wanted to look nice”. Ted eventually moved to Shawnee, OK in 2017 to live with his daughter. Even into his late 80’s, Ted went to the Shawnee Community Center and drove himself every day to the local Boomerang restaurant for breakfast, where he was a favorite among the staff. Ted passed away peacefully of natural causes on February 8, 2021 at Primrose Retirement Center. Ted is survived by his daughter Tanya Sue Ward and her husband Robert H. Ward III and two grandchildren, Gabriel Robert Ward and Gideon Robert Ward, of Shawnee, OK. He is preceded in death by his wife, Sue Burks, parents C.R. and Edith Burks, and sister Jackie Neff. Ted Burks leaves behind a tremendous legacy of love and service. Service to his country, his family, and to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Ted’s family would like to thank Primrose Retirement Community Assisted Living Center and Heartland Hospice for the excellent and compassionate care that he received.
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