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Robert "Bob" Burks

Obituary for Robert "Bob" Burks

August 20, 1930 - May 28, 2017
Clemson, South Carolina | Age 86


Robert "Bob" Edward Burks, 86, husband of Elizabeth "Betty" Steadman Burks—whom he absolutely adored—passed away Sunday, May 28, 2017 following complications from a medical procedure. Bob was known for his gentle and kind demeanor, his thoughtful and principled counsel, his deep love and support for his family, and for his strong faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.

Born August 20, 1930 in Washington, DC, Bob was raised in Atlanta, GA, along with his two brothers and sister. After initially pursuing a law degree at Emory University, he followed his heart to study for the ministry and graduated from Mercer University (Macon, GA) in 1951. While at Mercer, Bob ran well enough on the track team (440 yard dash and anchor of the mile relay team) to be inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame (2009).

With the foundation of his unwavering faith, he was ordained to ministry (Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta) in 1951. After receiving his doctoral degree in New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary (Louisville, KY) and several years of ministry at Bethel Baptist Church (Scottsburg, IN), he and his children Jennifer, Kari Beth and Tucker, and former spouse Norma Jean Connelly, née Banner, moved in 1961 to Anderson, SC, where he assumed the role of Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church. There he undertook one of his most satisfying accomplishments—planning, organizing, and leading the ministry to the deaf.

With the critical assurance that African-American students would soon be allowed to attend, Bob joined the faculty of Anderson University (then Anderson College) in 1965. During his 36-year tenure at Anderson he served as the Chairman of the Department of Religion and often as a faculty leader. He always cherished the continued contact with many of his former students and colleagues.

Bob was innately humble but frequently honored to be involved in various other roles. He served as deacon in the First Baptist Church of Clemson and as interim pastor and consultant for numerous churches in the region. He led and participated in a number of community services, including the Clemson Rotary Club (President and Paul Harris Fellow) and the Anderson School of Theology for Laypersons (President), a forum for interfaith dialogue. He remained outspoken throughout his life with his commitment to advancing race relations and illuminating human and social injustice.

He maintained and shared his fascination of history, politics, and science. Above all, Bob was loved for his nurturing spirit, reassuring presence, gentle soul, and countless acts of kindness.

Bob is survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Betty; his children, Jennifer Dawson (Cal), Kari Beth Trent (David), and Tucker; his stepdaughters Diane Langos (Bruce) and Cindy Jacobson, his stepson Dirk Jacobson; his grandchildren Calvin, Hunter, Jeff, and Cole; his step grandson Tyler; his step great-grandson Kyle; his sister Elizabeth "Bette" Turlington. He is preceded in death by his father Jesse, his mother Elizabeth, his stepmother Margaret, and his brothers Ralph and Arnold.

Memorial Service – Saturday, June 10 – 3:00 pm – First Baptist Church of Clemson, 397 College Avenue, Clemson, SC 29631. Visitation will be in the foyer immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Robert E. Burks Biblical Studies Endowed Scholarship Fund at Anderson University. Gifts may be made on-line ( or by mailing contributions to the following address: Office of Development, Anderson University, 316 Boulevard, Anderson, SC 29621.

Condolences may be expressed online at

Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, Central, is assisting the family.

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Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home & Crematory

108 Cross Creek Road
Central, SC 29630
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