John Frank Burdette – Obituary

by Lynn McMillen
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John Frank Burdette died peacefully last night, September 25, with family members by his side. He was 93. Visitation will be Friday, September 27, at 10 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Roanoke.

Like other great men, John Frank had a dynamic personality. He was a proud, loyal, brave, thoughtful and disciplined man who was at the same time kind, loving and supremely devoted to his family and God. His character was undiminished by his long illness and his virtues were displayed to everyone who knew him until the end. His powerful influence and his presence are already missed, but his legacy continues.

John Frank called Roanoke home for his entire life. He was born there on July 2, 1920, to John-Simpson and Odessa Burdette, and he had two sisters, Mary-Ella Rumbley and Inez Jones. After graduating high school and working briefly at Pepsi Cola Co. in LaGrange, Ga., he was drafted into service on June 27, 1942, and sent to North Africa and Europe.

Throughout his military duty during WWII, he flew more than 60 air missions as a gunner and reconnaissance photographer in B-17 and B-25 bombers. He was awarded the Airman’s Medal, five Bronze Stars, a Distinguished Unit Badge, Good Conduct Medal and the EAME Theater Ribbon before returning home in January of 1945.

On May 2, 1945, he married the love of his life, Sarah Parris, in a ceremony in Florida. Together they had 4 children, Bill, Bettye, Johnnye and Lew, and established Burdette Food Store in Roanoke. For more than 50 years as entrepreneurs, John Frank and Sarah worked tirelessly to establish their store as a place where everyone was welcomed and taken care of. Perhaps more than anything else, Burdette Food Store represented John Frank and Sarah and the values that were important to them.

John Frank was a lifetime member of The First Christian Church where he was entrusted as treasurer. He also attended the First United Methodist Church with Sarah during the last five years of his life.

As a young man, he Ioved hunting and fishing in the woods and rivers surrounding Roanoke, but he was passionate about golf, and he was an avid sports fan. He loved local high school sports, Braves baseball and, most of all, Alabama basketball and football.

He is survived by Sarah, his loving wife of 68 years; his children, Bill Burdette (Franki), Bettye (Bill), Johnnye (Sam) and Lew (Suzie); 14 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.

The loving care provided by Willamsburg Manor and Hospice deserves special thanks. Their staff has our family’s admiration and gratitude.

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