Helen Virginia (Austin) Burks journeyed peacefully to be with her Lord and Savior on December 5th, 2020. She joined in heaven her beloved adoptive parents, aunt and uncle Clessie (Wimberly) and Dee Austin, and her birth parents Oland and Vera (Wimberly) Meaders, along with her sister Loretta Watts and five brothers: Wayland, Wayne, Marl, Owen and Baby Meaders. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Bill Burks of Claremore; her son and wife, Brad and Peggy Burks of Owasso and their children Sarah and Michael; her son, W. Brent Burks of Claremore and his children Jobie, Jonah and Joshua; and her son and wife, Blake and Dina Burks of Tulsa and their children Elizabeth and Andrew.
Visitation for friends and family will be from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Wednesday, December 9th at MMS-Payne Funeral Home, located at 102 W. 5th St. in Claremore, Oklahoma, with epidemic precautions in place. Graveside services for Helen will be at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 10th at Pryor Cemetery, located 2.5 miles south of Stuart, Oklahoma. Pallbearers will be Brad Burks, Brent Burks, Blake Burks, Jonah Burks, Andrew Burks and Sarah Burks. Honorary pallbearers will be Joshua Burks, Scott Burks, Steve Burks, Duane Hamil, Wade Meaders, and Dewey Lee Wimberly. Flowers may be delivered to the funeral home; in lieu of flowers, donations in Helen’s honor may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) or the Shriners Hospitals for Children (shrinershospitalsforchildren.org).
Helen was born on January 9th, 1935 to Oland and Vera Meaders of Ashland, Oklahoma. Later losing her mother to illness at age 2, her father, having six children to raise on a depression era farm, accepted the offer of Vera’s sister Clessie and her husband Dee to adopt and raise Helen on their farm nearby. Helen attended Ashland Schools, where she excelled in academics and mastered basketball, graduating in 1952. She earned an Associate Degree in 1954 from Eastern Oklahoma A&M College in Wilburton, Oklahoma. Her first employment was with the US Naval Ammunition Depot near McAlester, Oklahoma, where she met the love of her life Bill, a US Marine, who was stationed at the Depot. Helen and Bill were later married on September 9th, 1956, in McAlester; soon departing for Norman, Oklahoma, to enable Bill to attend the University of Oklahoma. Between Bill’s academic schedule and Helen’s work with the FAA, they spent fall weekends watching Sooner football games. After Brad was born and Bill graduated in 1961, the couple moved to the oil and gas fields of Pampa, Texas where they welcomed the birth of William Brent in 1962. The couple lived in Kansas before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1963 to take advantage of opportunities in the oil capital. While in Tulsa, Helen gave birth to Blake in 1965. Her caring nature was a gift, using it in raising her children, taking an active role in the Methodist church, and volunteering at a Tulsa hospital, St. John. Seeking to get back to their country roots, the couple moved near Talala, Oklahoma in 1973, where they with their children raised cattle. With Helen’s guidance, all three sons graduated from Oologah High School, Brent and Blake then graduating from the University of Oklahoma and Brad from the University of Tulsa. Helen and Bill retired in 1996 in Claremore Oklahoma, where they relaxed, traveled and enjoyed the company of their 7 grandchildren.
Helen dealt with the effects of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in her legs most of her life, not needing the assistance of braces or mobility devices until her later years. She rarely complained about her disability, preferring to focus on the needs of others. Helen’s faith, and compassion for others, led her to become a Stephen Minister in the Methodist Church, focusing on Christ-centered care to people in the church congregation and in the Oologah and Claremore communities. Helen and Bill were active members of Memorial Drive and Boston Avenue Methodist Churches in Tulsa, Oologah United Methodist Church, and First United Methodist Church of Claremore.
In recent years, Helen battled the effects of Dementia. The last year of her life was spent under the care of staff at Emerald Memory Care in Claremore. Family, friends and staff always commented on Helen’s gentleness and her caring nature and bragged of her wit and beautiful smile. Her smile will be the envy of all in heaven. She will be dearly missed by many friends and family, who are comforted that she is with friends and family in heaven.