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Vernon John Burky

September 28, 1925 August 30, 2019
Vernon  John Burky
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Obituary for Vernon John Burky

Vernon John Burky, 93, passed away peacefully in the early morning on Friday, August 30, 2019, with his daughters by his side at his home in Helvetia. He was born September 28, 1925, on the Burky family farm in Helvetia, a son of the late Ernest and Alma Betler Burky who primarily spoke Swiss in the home. Formerly of Mill Creek, Vernon spent his last years enjoying family, friends, and lots of music on his Grandpa Betler’s hilltop farm

On October 23, 1948, in Baltimore, MD, he married the most delightful young woman from Adolph and love of his life, Virginia Fincham Burky who preceded him in death in 2014.

Surviving are two daughters, Denise Burky Kramer and husband Harry of Elkins, and Sandra Burky of Helvetia; one sister, Alice Phillips of Bluffton, SC; four brothers-in-law, Truman Fincham and wife Nancy, Hollis “Preach” Farrar, Eugene “Gene” Cave, and Rodney Carr; three sisters-in-law, Arlene Lanham and husband William “Wink”, Sharon Bonnett, and Patricia Fincham; three granddaughters, Kadra Casseday and husband Adam, Karly Wallace and husband J.C., and Kary McAtee and husband Justin; and two great-grandsons, Vernon and Norman Casseday.

Also preceding him in death were his brothers, Norman Burky and wife Gwendaline, Herbert Burky and wife Hazel, and Edward Burky; sister, Irene Burky Snyder and husband Clair; brothers-in-law John Fincham and wife Bessie, Gatewood Fincham, Paul Fincham and wife Ruth, and Gary Bonnett as well as sisters-in-law Verna Culbertson, Nancy Mathes, Alma Cave, Olive Farrar, and Charolette Carr.
Vernon was not only a brother and friend but a surrogate father to the Fincham children after the untimely death of his father-in-law, Kermit. He and Virginia spent many weekends early in their marriage traveling back to Adolph to help on the farm and they later cared for Virginia’s niece Diane Culbertson Fielden. Their home was always open to family, friends, and strangers.

When Vernon was a little boy, he was surrounded by the music of his grandfather Gottlieb, father Ernest, Uncle Werner, and cousin Ralph. After hearing the tune “Springtime In the Rockies” at the Burky Farm one evening, he told his sister Irene that he wanted to learn to play that song on the fiddle and so began his lifelong love of playing and sharing Helvetia’s traditional Old-Time music. He was a member of the Helvetia Star Band, the Helvetia Swiss Folklore Group, and helped in founding the First Saturday Square Dances in Helvetia where he performed with fiddling and traditional Swiss yodeling annually during Helvetia Fair, Swiss National Holiday, Pickens Maple Syrup Festival, and special family reunions.

Vernon and his siblings attended the Haslebacher School during their elementary years where they learned English. He was a 1944 graduate of Pickens School, where he enjoyed various sports and learned the trumpet. He often worked assisting the area physician, “Doc” Cunningham, as a youth and helped his grandparents make “Helvetia Cheese” for the community, tap maple trees, raise chickens, and run the smokehouse on their farm. Vernon also became the family “barber” for all of the boys who lived near. He later became a crane operator on heavy construction jobs throughout West Virginia with Jay Dyer Company out of Clarksburg. Vernon also worked a short period of time running the Tyrand Parrish Dairy Farm in Mill Creek and worked to retirement at Concast Metals in Dailey. He was also a member of the Elks Club.

The Burky family enjoyed playing music together on their farm and in the community. Vernon and his brother Norman enjoyed playing and singing together until Norman’s passing. Vernon’s great-grandsons are named for him and his brother and their example of being true gentlemen. He made sure his family was surrounded by instruments and most recently taught his great-grandson to fiddle the favorite family jam tune “Boil the Cabbage Down”. Local musicians have learned, played, and shared his Helvetia tunes throughout Old-Time music circles across the state and country. Vernon enjoyed sharing music and practiced nearly every day. His third-generation traditional Helvetia fiddle tunes have been documented by various WV arts organizations including the Augusta Heritage Center in the film “Vo mine Bårge” archived at the Library of Congress.

Vernon enjoyed camping - especially at his rustic family cabin on Turkeybone - and spending long summers with his wife as well as his brother and sister-in-law Norman and “Gwen” in the cabins they built on Hilltop in Helvetia. His other pastimes included growing African Violets and Christmas Cactus, woodworking, dabbling in traditional wine-making with others in the Helvetia community, and driving tractor on the farm. He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye and was a kind, hard-working, and patient soul who will be missed by many.

The family suggests that contributions be made to the Augusta Heritage Center Scholarship Fund, 100 Campus Drive, Elkins, WV 26241 or the Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 235, Helvetia, WV 26224, in memory of Vernon Burky.

A visitation will be held at the Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church Tuesday, September 3, 2019, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, the funeral hour. Interment will follow at Pickens Cemetery.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Tuesday

3

Sep

11:00 AM 9/3/2019 11:00:00 AM - 1:00 PM 9/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church

Route 46 - Alexander Road
Helvetia, WV 26224

Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church
Route 46 - Alexander Road Helvetia 26224 WV
United States

Funeral Service

Tuesday

3

Sep

1:00 PM 9/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church

Route 46 - Alexander Road
Helvetia, WV 26224

Helvetia Zion Presbyterian Church
Route 46 - Alexander Road Helvetia 26224 WV
United States

Interment

Tuesday

3

Sep

2:00 PM 9/3/2019 2:00:00 PM
Pickens Cemetery

Pickens Road
Pickens, WV 26288

Pickens Cemetery
Pickens Road Pickens 26288 WV
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Pickens Cemetery Final Resting Place

Pickens Road
Pickens, WV 26288

Pickens Road Pickens 26288 WV
United States
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