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James Mack Burk, July 1, 1931 — June 4, 2012, of Columbia

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 7:17 p.m. CDT

James Mack Burk of Columbia died on June 4, 2012. He was a 45-year resident of Columbia.

Visitation will be from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 8 at Parker Funeral Service in Columbia. Funeral Services will be at 1 p.m. at the same location. Interment will follow the service at the Columbia Cemetery.

James was born on July 1, 1931 in Muskogee, Okla. to John Dee Burk and Marie Kyle Burk. He attended public school in Muskogee, graduating from Central High School in the Class of 1949. 

A graduate of Oklahoma City University, he was the Secretary and President of the University’s chapter of Phi Mu Alpha-Sinfonia (professional music fraternity) and Vice-President and President of Blue Key (national leadership organization). He wrote a Pledge Manual for Sinfonia that was adopted by the national fraternity and has been used since 1953. He later served in regional offices of the fraternity.

He served in U.S. Army bands at Fort Chaffee, Ark., and Fort Sill, Okla., before going overseas. He was in the 60th Army Band in the (Panama) Canal Zone and also served an assistant bandleader.

He married Bobbie Jean McBride on June 12, 1954. They were married for 52 years. She preceded him in death. Their son, James Jeffery, was born in 1956 at the Coco Solo Hospital in Cristóbal, Canal Zone.

He earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. He also did graduate studies at Indiana University.

James was band director at Classen Junior-Senior High School in Oklahoma City for 6 years. His bands earned honors at festivals and contests, including the Downbeat Award for Outstanding Stage Band at the Tri-State Music Festival (1958). He also conducted several musicals at Classen including "Kiss Me Kate," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Where’s Charlie," "Mr. Wonderful" and "The Pajama Game."

He taught at Oklahoma College for Women, Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, and Oklahoma City University. He joined the faculty at the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1967 and taught music theory (harmony, counterpoint, acoustics, orchestration) and other undergraduate and graduate courses. He retired in 1996 after 30 years at U.M.C. He was the President of the U.M.C. chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda (Music honor society) for 24 years and initiated the Honors Convocation for the Department of Music that has become a special annual event. He was a Friend of the Arts (a type of honorary membership) of Sigma Alpha Iota (International Music Fraternity).

James attended and presented papers at regional and national meetings of professional organizations. He was a contributor to The New Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, The American Biographical Dictionary, and other professional publications. He compiled and edited A Charles Ives Omnibus (Pendragon Press, 2008), a large listing of research and reference materials regarding the great American composer.

James was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Fulton, where he was also an Elder. His wife, Bobbie, was the Choir Director from 1976 to 2004. James performed many flute accompaniments to the choir as well as solos.

He is survived by his son, James Jeffery Burk of Aurora, Ill., and his sister, Barbara Burk Ferguson of Owasso, Okla.

Memorials may be sent to the Dulaney-Browne Library at Oklahoma City University, 73106; Attention: the James Mack Burk Collection.


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