On a cool November day in 1934, in a small Oklahoma house with a dirt floor, Darrell Gene Burris began his journey, touching the lives of thousands.
What day, exactly, that was, became a point of contention, because the doctor went on vacation and ultimately forgot the exact date.
“I remember,” his mother Ruby would tell him. “I was there.”
From that humble start, Darrell began a life filled with service to others, not only because it was his faith, but also part of his being.
He helped his late father, Gene Burris, paint and wallpaper houses at a very young age. When his sister, Paula (Burris) Casey and brother, Randy Burris, were born, he helped his mother shower them with love.
When he was just 17 years old, he saw a tall, beautiful girl walking to school and asked if she wanted a ride.
Despite him being a baseball and football star as well as a handsome high school teen, she told him “no.”
Day after day he would ask until finally, she agreed to have a Coke with him after school.
Less than a year later, when Mary Lou Porter was just 15 years old, she and Darrell snuck off to get married.
For six months they kept their marriage a secret by continuing to live with their families and longing to be together.
Her father was furious and threatened to annul the marriage when he discovered the marriage.
Darrell fought to keep Mary Lou and they remained married for 35 years until one freezing day in 1987 when she was taken too soon from a tragic car accident on the Overholser Bridge on Highway 66 near Bethany.
She was just 50 years old.
Besides Darrell’s love for his wife, Mary Lou, he loved his family and many friends.
He enjoyed the service members he met during his basic training in the U.S. Army at Fort Sill and spent time at Fort Polk and Fort Belvoir.
Hoping to never see active duty, he confessed to his commanding officer that he didn’t think he could ever kill another person because he was a Christian.
While serving in the Army, Darrell learned his trade of printing that would become one skill he would carry throughout the rest of his life.
Civilian life allowed Darrell to use his printing skills by working at several companies including OPUBCO while always dreaming of owning his own shop.
In 1979, in Oklahoma City, he finally achieved his goal and opened Burris Printing.
The company printed material for many clients including Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy, the National Weather Service Training Center in Norman and Stucky’s Diamonds in Houston, just to mention a few.
When his granddaughter, Sarah Katheryn, was born, Darrell and Mary Lou’s lives changed forever.
After his wife’s death, it was his time with Sarah, he said, that saved him.
“You’re going to have to learn how to use the dishwasher,” Darrell remembered Sarah telling him. At age six, Sarah literally saved him when he accidentally caught his kitchen on fire while cooking as he watched a basketball game on TV.
There were also the times Sarah tried to force him to eat his vegetables and she would later find them hidden in his napkin.
Darrell struggled with diabetes, and she would frequently find his freezer full of Nutty-Buddies and chocolate milk.
His Yukon home on Oak Street frequently became a favorite place for his granddaughter’s giggling teenage friends to hold their slumber parties and New Year’s sleepovers.
To this day, a whole generation of Yukon graduates refers to him as “Papa.”
After retiring from printing, Darrell joined the team at Lowe’s in Yukon working part-time, promising all his customers 10% discounts.
He enjoyed using his time away from Lowe’s at the Yukon Bowling Alley where he volunteered to teach over a hundred children in youth bowling classes. Many of his students even went on to win tournaments.
Darrell’s family and friends lost track of the number of perfect score — 300 games – he bowled.
Darrell joined his wife, Mary Lou, in Heaven on April 22.
His granddaughter Sarah and his sister Paula lovingly held his hands while playing his favorite Elvis songs at his assisted living center in Oklahoma City.
Those left behind are his sister, Paula (Burris) Casey and husband Mike Casey of Oklahoma City; brother Randy Burris and wife Vicky of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia; son Michael Burris and wife Susan of Yukon; son Samuel Burris of Los Angeles; granddaughter Sarah Burris of Washington, D.C., as well as nephews Michael Siekel and wife Jeri of Oklahoma City; Scott Wallace and wife Jennifer of Southlake, Texas; and nieces and nephews Lucas, Lilyan, Jacob, Brandon Kyle and Dee, Jennifer Burris and Andee Allen.
After succumbing to Lewy Body Dementia, Darrell agreed to donate his brain to the Boston University’s study with the Veterans Administration investigating how concussions can contribute to degenerative brain diseases.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, services for Darrell will be held at a later date when his friends and family can all come together to remember his life.
Leigh Rhea (Ross) Moore was born April 17, 1948, to John Ray and Opal Imogene (Burris) Ross in El Reno.
She passed away April 26 in Oklahoma City at the age of 72.
Because of her dad’s Army career, she attended many schools, including those in Germany and Hawaii.
She graduated from Harlingen High School in Texas and went on to the University of Hawaii and Central State University, where she acquired her bachelor’s degree.
After graduation, she went to work for the Canadian County Department of Human Services, where she was a social worker and then supervisor for a total of 31 years.
She then continued on with contract work for OU in the KIDS Program.
On Sept. 13, 1973, she married Alvin Moore in Norman. They made their home in Yukon.
Leigh Rhea and Alvin had two children, Keila Rhea and Johnathan Kristopher.
Leigh Rhea was a member of First United Methodist Church in Yukon.
She loved photography and always had her camera in her hand at the ready.
She just loved everyone and absolutely loved taking care of them. Her biggest delight was spending time with her “grandchildren.”
Leigh Rhea was preceded in death by both of her children, Keila and Johnathan; parents, John and Opal, and her brother, John Ray III.
She is survived by her husband, Alvin R. Moore of Yukon; brother, Lanny B. Ross of Yukon, and aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and their families, whom she adored.
Memorial gifts may be made to your favorite charity in Leigh Rhea’s honor.
There will be a public come-and-go viewing on Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Yanda and Son Funeral Home in Yukon.
Private graveside services will be held Friday at the Yukon Cemetery, Yukon.
Online condolences may be signed at www.yandafuneral.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Yanda & Son Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Lois Faye Smith was born Sept. 22, 1934, in Todd County, South Dakota.
She was a member of the Lakehoma Church of Christ in Mustang.
Lois passed away April 24.
She is survived by her husband, Lloyd Smith, of Mustang; one son, Brian Richards of Clinton; one daughter, Mary Weese of Wichita, Kansas; 11 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 1 sister, Leona Biltoft of Nebraska.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Guy and Bessie Harp; one daughter, Peggy Walton; three brothers, Kenneth, Carmen and Richard; and four sisters, Athel, Gartha, Elva and Betsy.
Lois dearly loved children and was always happiest around them.
She operated a day care out of her home for many years and worked in other day care facilities.
She also enjoyed making quilts and for many years has been a member of the Mission Quilters organization at Chisholm Heights Baptist Church in Mustang. Arrangements are under the direction of McNeil’s Funeral Service in Mustang.
Per Lois’ request, there will be no public viewing.
Online tributes may be entered at www.mcneilsfuneral.com.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Shriners Hospital for Children.
DEATH NOTICES – April 29, 2020
Ethan Daniel Johnson, 30, died April 21. Services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at Johnson Family Farm, 5204 S. Mustang Road, Mustang. (McNeil)
Shirley Stubb-lefield Risenhoover Lowden, 84, died Saturday. Graveside services will be 2 p.m. Thursday at IOOF Cemetery, 1913 N. Porter Avenue, Norman. (McNeil)
Leigh Rhea (Ross) Moore, 72, died Sunday. Services are private. (Yanda)
Lois Faye Smith, 85, died Friday. Services will be held at a later date. (McNeil)