Funeral services for William A. “Bill” Burch will be 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, at the Mullinax Funeral Home in Butler, Mo., (660) 679-0009 with Pastor Holly Rabourn officiating.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight at the funeral home. Burial with U.S. Navy Honors in Oak Hill Cemetery, Butler. Memorial contributions are suggested to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Guillain Barre Syndrome Foundation, Heartland Hospice, or American Cancer Society. Messages of condolence may be left for the family at www.mullinaxfuneralhome.com.
After several months of failing health, William Alva (Bill) Burch passed away Monday evening, Dec. 10, 2012, at his farm home bordering Butler's southern city limits. He was 87. Surrounding him in those final hours were his wife of 62 years, Barbara Jo (Ehart) Burch; his three sons, Larry (with wife Denise) and Brett, both of Butler, and Dr. Douglas Burch (with wife Danel) of Neosho, and their respective families.
Bill was the fourth of five sons born to the late Jerry and Mary Edith (Searfus) Burch. The first-born, Clyde, died at the age of 5, and Bill was preceded in death by his brothers, Delmer and Claude.
Survivors also include six grandchildren — Danica of Kansas City, Devon and fiancée, Matt Figge, of Orlando, Fla., Darci of Portland, Ore., Jessica of Kansas City, Will of Butler, and Jamie (with husband Jared) of Oronogo, Mo.
He leaves a total of eight nieces and nephews. He also leaves a brother, Charles H. (Charley) and wife, Naomi, of Chambersburg, Pa., in addition to brother Claude's wife, Aleta Burch Schowengerdt, and Delmer's wife, Jerry (Dines) Burch.
With the exception of time spent in the service of his country during World War II, Bill was a life-long resident of Bates County. He attended Star School, a one-room country school five miles south of Butler, then enrolled at Butler High School where he received his diploma in 1943.
A talented musician, Bill sang in the glee club and mixed chorus at Butler High and played string bass in the school's orchestra. He also had a prominent role in the Burch Brothers' Band in which he played the mandolin and guitar and sang tenor; Delmer played guitar also, while Claude performed with the violin and Charley played the tenor guitar. The group appeared on Old Settlers' Day and the annual Double Branch reunion and picnic. The band also was invited to perform on the Tex Owens Radio Show in Kansas City. All four boys were taught the harmonica by their father, Jerry.
All four of the Burch brothers were swept into the armed services during World War II. Bill chose to enlist in the Navy as a combat crew member for aircraft carrier duty. He successfully completed training as a radar operator and aviation machinist school; while in aerial gunnery school, the war ended and since he had earned enough points he was given an honorable discharge.
Page 2 of 2 - After returning to civilian life, Bill bought a milk route in which he picked up milk (in 10-gallon cans) from area dairy farms. He also took on assignments as driver of milk tanker trucks. After suffering a back injury in 1956, he stopped operating a milk route and drove grain trucks for several different firms.
Bill was married to Barbara Jo Ehart on Sept. 30, 1950, and to this union were born three sons — William Douglas, Larry Dean, and Brett Duane. Together they purchased an acreage south of Butler that embraced the "Christy Lake" then later acquired an additional farming acreage from his cousin, Kenneth Rogers.
In addition to his farming operations, Bill served on the Mount Pleasant Township Board and was later elected to two terms as Bates County treasurer. He briefly held a gubernatorial appointment as an examiner for the Missouri state auditor and also served as northern judge for Bates County.
Community service activities included membership in Lions Club International. And in 1972 he was elected as a delegate to the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.