Ralph Jack Burcham, 88, of Louisburg, Kan., died peacefully surrounded by his loved ones, in the care of Olathe Health Center Hospice House in Olathe, Kan.
Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Dengel & Son Mortuary Louisburg Chapel, 1 Aquatic Drive, Louisburg, Kan.
Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at Dengel & Son Mortuary Louisburg Chapel. Burial to follow with military honors in the Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Kan.
Ralph Jack Burcham was born in Fort Scott, Kan. on Feb. 13, 1931. He was the oldest son of Ralph and Ruby Hayes Burcham.
When Ralph was 2 years old, the family farm was sold and the move was made to Harding, Kan., where his father owned and operated an auto repair and mechanic shop. His only brother, Robert Lee Burcham, was born in 1933 shortly after moving to Harding.
Jack excelled in school and sports and graduated from Fulton High School in 1949. His senior year he won 1st place in the 440-yard dash at the Kansas Relays.
Jack attended Ft. Scott Junior College for two years before his National Guard unit was called into active duty. After attending Officer Candidate School for six months in Fort Bliss, TX, he was sent to Korea where he served in the Korean War from January-September 1953. He was Captain of the Army’s Battery C, 90th Field Artillery and was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for heroic service in a combat zone. Jack was a Captain when he received an honorable discharge from the Army, but remained on the Reserves for several years afterward.
Determined to complete his education, Jack enrolled at the University of Arkansas under the GI Bill where he earned his Civil Engineering degree. He has said his favorite memory at the University of Arkansas occured while working at the local gas station. One day, Jack encountered a beautiful blonde girl who was seeking help after running out of gas a block away. After helping Gwendolyn Frances Parker, Jack invited her to have a Coca-Cola the next day. They quickly fell in love and several months later she became his wife. They were married for 61 years until 2016 when Frances passed away.
On September 8th, 1969, Jack and Frances welcomed a daughter, Thresa, into their lives. She was a very active Daddy’s girl and enjoyed many different sports at a young age while Jack coached her teams. At age 12, Thresa began playing tennis and competed in numerous state, regional and national tennis tournaments. Jack and Thresa traveled many miles together across the U.S., experiencing intense competition and gaining many lifelong friends on these trips.
Jack had a very successful career that included working for Boeing in Wichita, Kan., before moving to Little Rock for an opportunity with the Arkansas Highway Department. Later, he accepted a position as General Manager at Granite Mountain Quarries where he remained until he retired in 2002. He would call GMQ his second home and would call the people there his family. He loved the time he spent in the crushed stone business. He continued to work part time after retirement until he and Frances moved to Louisburg, Kan. in 2005 to be close to their daughter and grandsons.
Jack stayed very busy after retirement and attended all of his grandson’s events and activities. Being “Papa” to Kyle and Alex brought Jack a tremendous amount of joy and pride. He was also involved in many organizations including The Sons of the American Revolution, The Lions Club, The Thunderbird Club, Miami County Historical Museum and served on the board of The Louisburg Senior Center.
In retirement, Jack and Frances enjoyed traveling to car shows with their 1957 Convertible Thunderbird that they purchased new. It won numerous awards at these shows and still would catch everyone’s attention when he would let his grandsons drive it around the neighborhood to keep it in good running condition. In 2008, Jack and Frances traveled back to Korea as guests of the Korean government for Jack’s service during the war. They traveled to China on that trip as well.
Jack enjoyed sports, especially all Arkansas Razorback sports, and would usually have a Razorback proudly displayed on his cap, shirt or lapel. He loved it when people commented and had ties to the University of Arkansas. He also attended a Super Bowl, several Final Four basketball games, SEC, Big 8 and Big 12 tournaments. He ended up adding Kansas State University to his favorites list since his daughter “defected” to play tennis there and earn her degree.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Ruby Hayes Burcham and his younger brother, Robert Lee Burcham.
Jack is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Thresa; Rod Lampe; two grandsons, Kyle and Alex Johnson; step-grandchildren, Katelyn and Blake Lampe, all of whom live in Olathe, Kan.; and his sister-in-law Shirley Burcham, of Fort Scott, Kan.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Louisburg Senior Center, 504 S. Metcalf Ave., Louisburg, Kan. 66053 or Olathe Health Hospice House, 15310 Marion St., Olathe, Kan. 66061.
Arrangements are under the direction of Dengel & Son Mortuary Louisburg Chapel, 1 Aquatic Dr. Louisburg, Kan. 66053