J. Robert (Bob) Burris of Chatham, died on September 30, 2023, with his family by his side. He was preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Velma Nuckols Burris.
Bob was born in Oilton, Oklahoma on February 19, 1933, to Robert and Helen (Arendell) Burris, delivered by a Native American doctor named Star. Along with his sister Sue, he grew up in Medford, Oklahoma, helping his dad tend to the cattle on the family farm. While attending Drumright High School, his passion for design and engineering became clear from his time spent constructing theatre sets for the drama department. After attending Oklahoma A&M, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering, he received his master’s degree from Lynchburg College. In 1958, after meeting at the Windmill in Lynchburg, VA, Bob and Velma got married, having their first of three sons just over a year later.
While living in Lynchburg and raising their sons, Bob and Velma were members of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bob was an engineer for Babcock & Wilcox. He continued designing beyond high school theatre sets, planning out his and Velma’s first home in Rainbow Forest, and later, their dream home on the family farm in Chatham. For 25 years, he was a member of Chatham Presbyterian Church. In retirement, Bob did not slow down, giving his time and talents to the community by designing a wing for the local Concord UMC, driving for Chatham Hall, and volunteering with the Pittsylvania County Literacy Program and Habitat for Humanity. Bob was charitable and kind, a real example of what it means to be a good and giving person.
Bob was a loving and caring father, always up for the latest adventure with his sons from building a homemade canvas canoe and taking it down the Big Otter River (and, subsequently, turning it over, Steve’s arm already in a cast) to traveling across the country together. In the summer, family vacations consisted of everyone piling into the 1970s yellow station wagon and heading 1,253 miles to Van, Texas, to visit Granddaddy and Nana Burris. A few years ago, Bob had them all together again (planes replacing the station wagon this time around) for a trip to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park. At 70, he joined them in white water rafting and, at 80, ziplining.
Bob is survived by his sons, their spouses, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and family friends. They include his sons Mark (Pam), grandsons Clay and Tye; Steve (Donna), grandchildren DJ, Alli, and Adam; Brian (Libby), grandchildren Amy (Jonathan) and Eric (Rachael); great-grandchildren Ella, Micah, and Aubrey. His sister Sue and nephews Brad, Mike, and great niece Jamie. And close family friend Mittie Lou.
In addition to Velma, or Mama, Dad was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, JT Nuckols, whom he lovingly cared for until his death. One grandson, Patrick Day, and one niece, Pam Ritschel Isom.
As for all who knew him, we have many wonderful memories of Dad; cherish them and the example he set for us to be good, caring, and giving to all whom we encounter. Dad, we hope we can live our lives as you did. We will think of you at each big family gathering centered around a good meal and every time we bite into a piece of ham, shrimp, corn, tacos, the occasional Arby’s roast beef sandwich, and, of course, chocolate ice cream. A big thumbs up to you, Dad, on a life well lived.
And a special thank you to the caregivers who took care of Dad and prepared him all the meals he loved in his final years.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make contributions, please consider Danville Habitat for Humanity and/or the Pittsylvania County Literacy Program, Bon Secours Community Hospice House, or the charity of your choice.
A small service is planned at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church at 21206 Timberlake Rd., Lynchburg, VA on October 15th, 2023 at 3 p.m.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory is assisting the family.