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09/28/1938 — 02/15/2021
Private Celebration of Life-Invitation Only-All are welcome to view the service via Live Streaming Button located above
Russell W. Burks passed away peacefully at his home (the Clubhouse) in Richland on February 15, 2021. Russ was born in Edgewood, MO on September 28, 1938 to Samuel Burks and Edith Moore. He was the second youngest of seven Burks brothers and spent his childhood years in Ipava, Illinois. Russ moved to Richland with his mother and brothers at the age of 15 in 1955, where the Burks family proceeded to make a big name for themselves in the Tri-Cities community.
Russ was a tremendous athlete growing up. In 1952 he pitched the Ipava boys’ softball team to a state championship. He was also a standout basketball player for the Richland (Columbia High) Bombers and was the first transfer player to earn a starting spot for the Bombers under Art Dawald. He was known as “Short Stuff” but he could jump high enough to dunk a volleyball and his large hands could easily palm a basketball. Russ also ran track for the Bombers and he was the starting point guard for the 1957 Bomber basketball team that won 22 straight games and was arguably one of the best teams in Bomber basketball history.
After graduating high school in 1957, Russ continued his basketball career at Columbia Basin College (CBC) and helped lead the team to a state title in 1958-1959. While attending CBC, Russ also worked in the family automotive business for Burks Bros. Texaco. In 1961, Russ enlisted in the United States Air Force and was Honorably Discharged in 1966. Russ also served in the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard, and he received a second Honorable Discharge from the Air National Guard in 1963. He was very proud of his military service and for receiving two Honorable Discharges.
Russ continued to work in the automotive business and in 1972 he and his brother Frank purchased the Towne Crier Tavern in Richland. Russ soon became known as Chicken Russ for his famous broasted chicken, which was hands down the best chicken around. He cooked over 200 chickens per week and often received orders from out of town, including an order from Portland, OR where the customer flew to Richland to pick up an order to go.
Those who met Russ have heard him talk about dating several Miss Tri-Cities during his younger years as a bachelor. However, Diane DeGooyer (and her son Scott) was the one who eventually stole his heart. They married in 1973 and were blessed with a baby boy, Joel R. Burks (Joey), in 1976.
Russ continued to own and operate the Towne Crier until he and his brother Frank sold it in 1987. The two brothers and business partners also owned and operated Burks Bros. Conoco until they sold out in 1994. Russ and his brothers also purchased an apple orchard in south Kennewick and farmed the orchard from 1990-1996. Although Russ retired from self-employment early, he continued to work seasonally for WSU Tri-Cities physical plant and the City of Richland Parks and Recreation department. Russ took pride in his work and was often commended by WSU staff and city officials for his relentless work ethic and fun personality. He was the first part-time employee for the City of Richland to receive the City Manager’s Medallion in 2004.
Throughout most of his life, Russ was an avid bowler and carried a 200 average for most of his career. Some of his bowling accolades include back-to-back 279 games, placing third in state in the ‘90s, and bowling in several pro-am tournaments. Russ also enjoyed playing softball, fishing, long road trips, horse races, boating, water skiing (while holding a beer and smoking a cigar!), watching his sons and granddaughters play ball, and spending time with his grandson Brody and spoiling him with candy.
Most importantly, Russ had a big heart and enjoyed spending quality time with family and countless friends, while socializing over a toddy. He literally had an open-door at his house, and always welcomed unannounced visitors into his home. His jovial personality, charm, love for others, and sense of humor were the traits that made Russ so endearing. Russ and those who knew him coined him the unofficial mayor of Richland, and he was considered a true legend. He had a tremendous impact in this community and will be greatly missed.
Russ was preceded in death by his parents and his beloved brothers Don, Bob, Bill, Leo, and Wally. Russ is survived by his son Joey (wife Kim); his stepson Scott Burks Newton (wife Carrie); his precious grandchildren Brody Burks, Jocie Newton, and Maddie Newton; his brother Frank (wife Sharon); and numerous nieces and nephews.
A public viewing will be held on Sunday, March 14 from 12:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. in the Einan’s at Sunset Event Center. A private Celebration of Life (by invitation only) will be held on Monday, March 15 at 1:00p.m., which will be live streamed via Einan’s website for anyone to join online. Please click on the link located at the top of the page to watch the Live Streaming of the service. A public burial will be held at 2:30p.m. at Sunset Memorial Gardens, and there will be a private reception by invitation only. You are also invited to share your memories in the online guest book below.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Russ Burks to the Linfield University Baseball Program or the Tri-Cities Cancer Center.
Rest in peace Dad, brother, uncle, and friend! You will be greatly missed, but we will continue to raise a glass in your honor. So here’s to ya and at ya. Now that I’ve met ya, bet ya, and let ya. I bet ya if I met ya, I’d let ya do it again! Love ya and God bless!
Russell & Frank Burks gave me my first job back in 1969 as their bookkeeper. I grew to love and adore their entire family. I have so many fond memories of Russ. He had a Buick Riviera that he would have me take up to the local car wash. I thought I was so cool to drive that beautiful car. He would take me & my girlfriends water skiing during the summer & we would return his generosity by toilet papering his car & boat while he was at the Gaslight Tavern. Later in life, I returned to the Tri-Cities. Burks Bros. called me to see if I could fill in temporarily doing their books, as their bookkeeper was leaving. I worked full time at a local bank, but I was glad to help them out. I would bring my daughter down with me & let her ring up invoices. I swear, that is where she learned her great work ethics. Even though the job was supposed to be temporary, I ended up staying until they eventually sold the station.
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Russ. Although I had not seen him for many years, I have fond memories of him. I remember him as a light-hearted, fun man who loved his family and enjoyed visiting with others – truly the “friendly neighbor down the street.” Scott, Joey, et al – My prayers are for the Lord’s peace and comfort to surround you during this time, and in all the days to come. My heart hurts for you.
I first met Russ in September of 1986. I was working as a consultant for the D.O.E. I met him at the Town Crier. My friends and I had lunch there quite often. I soon became friends with RUSS and his brothers and their families. What a great group of people. I spent many evenings with Russ watching his son Joey playing baseball.
I am glad to say over the years I was able to visit with Russ and his family numerous times and have he and Joey visit with mine. I have truly lost a great friend. But, I can cherish a lot of great memories of time spent with Russ and his family.
I feel privileged to have known Russ. He was truly one of the kindest, gentlest, most charming people I have known. His visits to the office always brightened my day and I am thankful to have known him. –
I remember Russ Burks as a very supportive stepdad/dad. When Scott was in my class in 6th grade, we were trying to raise money for a field trip to the Oregon Coast. Saving aluminum cans was one way we were doing so. One afternoon a pick FULLL of BEER cans (in plastic bags) showed up at the backdoor of my classroom at Jason Lee. Lots of $, not an overly happy principal…
Sympathy to the family. His passing is a loss for the community also.
I don’t know how many times my life intersected with Russ, but many through the years going back to about 1965 or so. Like with all the Burk brothers, you couldn’t help but like Russ. Always helpful, always with a smile. Russ and the Burks are all what I have come to know as “Good People!” People you can count on and trust. I’ll just bet he’s making some baskets or bowling strikes up there in heaven.
It so hurts my heart to lose another one of the brothers. My prayers are for the family .
Russ was a dream to know and to work for. The fun times at the Crier. I cherish my time of being able to know and to be around all of these fine people. Russ, Wally, Bill and Leo were the ones I knew and worked for. I had met Don when he visited. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bob.
Frank, be safe and secure with the knowledge of love around you.
Russ was a great friend to the McIntyres, I especially appreciated his friendship with my father Johnnie and working for Russ for a short time prior to my enlisting in the USAF. Rest well Russ, I will miss your stories and your bright shining personality. Love ya buddy.
Russ and I had a lot of good memories, I spent a lot of time down at the Towne Crier. Enjoying their chicken dinners.
Russ, John McIntyre and I bowled in the City Tournament together and we Won.
I have so many other memories.
Russ will be missed. RIP.
I have fond memories of Russ dating back 60 years. Always enjoyed his friendship. The special bond of the Burks Brothers was awesome. Russell and my brother shared some special moments and I was glad to be included. Rest in peace dear friend, we will be telling Russ Burks stories for years .
It was and honor to have known Russ. Loved talking with him at the Crier and his Brosted Chicken was the best we have eaten.
Carol and I always enjoyed when we ment up with him at places like the Sausage Fest and listening to what was going on in his lfe.
We will miss seeing him he was truly one of a kind. One of our regrets is that we didn’t stop by his house and have that drink that he always invited us to do!! RIP Russ!!
Rest in my friend. The memories are many and shall never be forgotten. The days of having a cold one with you DR,RG, EL and all the other guys as we solved the problems of the world will remain with me always.
Good Bye but never forgotten,
I had the honor of working for the Burks Brother, for Frank at the Conoco and for Russ at the Towne Crier. Russ was always willing to help you in a time of need and he was a wonderful man and friend!