Gerald Dean “Jerry” Burk of Bailey, Colo., passed away Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Broomfield, Colo. His health had declined following a stroke in January of 2018. He was 88 years old.
He was born on Jan. 23, 1931, in Eagleton, Ark., to Girld and Agnes Burk. Jerry graduated from Portola High School, California, in 1948. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in January of 1951. He studied to be an aircraft mechanic and was discharged in 1955. He graduated from Fresno State College with a Bachelors in Geology.
Jerry started post graduate studies at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., where he met Janet Thomson. He secured a job with the Bureau of Reclamation, starting out in Moses Lake, Wash. Janet and Jerry were married on March 30, 1963. Jerry accepted a position in Phoenix, Ariz., where they lived for four years. They enjoyed escaping the heat by camping in the high country.
He transferred to Willows, Calif. in 1967. He joined a sailplane club and spent time flying gliders and also driving a tow vehicle (their 1964 Ford Custom) at the local airport and Rabbit Dry Lake near Reno.
His lifelong passion for aviation grew. In 1968 they moved to Carmichael, Calif., and welcomed a daughter into the world, Christine Marie. Jerry obtained his private pilot’s license while in Carmichael.
He worked at Pyramid Lake, Nev. for some time, until the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation offered a position at the Federal Center in Lakewood, Colo. The family moved to Colorado in the winter of 1975.
Shortly after arriving in Colorado, Jerry expanded his aviation pursuits by joining the Foothills Squadron of the Colorado Civil Air Patrol. He remained active with the Civil Air Patrol until 2006, when he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 31 years of service. He was also a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and Association of Engineering Geologists. Unofficial affiliations included a charter membership in the ROMEO Club (Retired Old Men Eating Out).
Jerry continued working for the Bureau, spending months at Brantley Dam, Carlsbad, N.M. Toward the end of his career he spent a month in Kuala Lumpur, working on a project with the Malaysian government.
Jerry retired from the Bureau in June of 1993. In 1997, the Burks fully embraced retirement, moving to the beautiful mountain hamlet of Bailey. There he supported the Friends of the Bailey Library, the Park County Historical Society, participated in Silverset (senior) activities and enjoyed Tuesday coffee at the Knotty Pine with friends.
He was an avid reader, loved to travel and had a lifelong interest in geology. A big, gentle, bear of a man, he was intelligent, soft spoken, and had a keen sense of humor and was a good listener.
He is survived by his wife, Janet; a daughter, Christine (Andrew) Keating; a sister, Irma (Stewart) Johnston; and brother, Bill Burk; as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Girld and Agnes. A celebration of life will be held in Bailey later this spring. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Civil Air Patrol: https://development.gocivilairpatrol.com/np/clients/gocivilairpatrol/membershipjoin.isp.