Wallace Burke, 87, of Woodbury passed away on April 4, 2023 with his family at his side. He was born on February 17, 1936, in Clinton, Missouri. Preceding him in death were his parents R. H. and Dorothy Wallace Burke.
He is survived by his wife, Martha Downing Burke; sons, Mark Burke of Smithville, Mitch (Gina) Burke of Woodbury, Matt (Mary) Burke of Bartlett; six grandchildren, Jesse Burke, Shelby Burke, Jonah (Kelsey) Burke, Downing (Michael) Burke, Andrew Burke, and Sophie Burke; and one very special great granddaughter, Orbrie Annamay Burke.
When Wallace was young his father worked for Armour Creamery. They had cheese plants in many different cities throughout the country. It seemed as though once he got settled in a town and began work, they needed him to move to manage another location. That was true until he got to the plant in Woodbury. It was then he settled in for good. Wallace was still a child and entered the third grade of Mrs. Myrtle Reed’s elementary class when they got to Woodbury. One of the first people he met was to be his future wife, Martha. They stayed connected from there on through the 66 years of marriage they were blessed to enjoy.
While in school he showed an interest in and a knack for industrial arts. In Mr. Clark Turney’s shop class he showed a flair for woodworking. Through the years he would craft many family heirlooms including their dining room table and hutch made from walnut lumber harvested on their farm. After graduating high school, he and Martha both went on to college. He attended MTSU and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts.
He must have picked up the habit of moving to find work from his dad. After getting married he and Martha both went to work for the same company in Ohio. His passion for industrial arts led him to jobs in Ohio, Florida, and finally in Tennessee. It took a while to work their way back to Woodbury, but when they finally settled it was on Martha’s grandparents' family farm on Doolittle. It has been in her family since 1912. Another thing which he and Martha shared was their faith, love for the Lord, and their church family. It just so happened they both found Christ through baptism on the same day in August of 1946 at Woodbury First Baptist Church. They remained active in church and instilled the same faith in their sons. Ten years later in 1956 they stood together in that same church to be joined in the bonds of holy matrimony and held fast to each other for the next 66 years.
They tried their hand at entrepreneurship by opening Mark’s Gift Shop, named after their first born. They sold china, crystal, jewelry, and a variety of other items. Wallace showed off more of his woodworking skills by building a rotating jewelry display for the shop. They operated the shop for several years before other work called to them. He held different positions through the years including drafting, industrial arts, and teaching industrial arts. In the last 30 years of his working life he worked for the State of Tennessee Department of Education in the Vocational Technical Education field. He worked under and traveled with several of the governors of Tennessee helping to develop the schools and curriculum for the schools in Nashville and Murfreesboro and across the state. Wallace also worked for years in this department to bring manufacturing businesses to Tennessee, helping to train and employ many young men and women for their future careers.
Wallace was proud of his work and the things he accomplished, but he was more proud of his wife, sons and the family life they enjoyed. An avid boater and fisherman he loved to take his family to Center Hill Lake for waterskiing and crappie and bass fishing. After retiring he and Martha took a three-month trip to Alaska with a camper. They also took annual trips to their second home in Florida for family vacations and more fishing of the deep-sea variety. He made sure to pass on the love of the outdoors and fishing to his grandchildren. The whole family enjoyed the time together and the bonding experience of spending time basking in the beauty of God’s creation. Those memories are cherished moments they can treasure for years to come.
Visitation will be held at Woodbury First Baptist Church on Friday, April 7, 2023, from 1-3 pm. Funeral services will follow at 3 pm at the church. Dean Anderson will officiate. Interment will be in Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to the following: The Woodbury First Baptist Church Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, American Cancer Society, or Gideons. Share memories and condolences with the family at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337. Because every life has a story.