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Thomas Ray Burtis
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Birth: May 26, 1918
Wise County
Texas, USA
Death: Dec. 22, 2010
Lubbock County
Texas, USA

A memorial service for Thomas Ray Burtis, 92, was on January 5, 2011, at St. John's United Methodist Church with the Rev. Archie Echols officiating.

Tom was born to Frederick William and Etta Mae (Hill) Burtis on May 26, 1918, in Decatur, Texas. Tom grew up in Decatur. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1935 while still in high school. He graduated from Decatur High School in 1936 and immediately joined the Army. He served in the Army as an enlisted man for six years, as a warrant officer for 21 years and retired as a Chief Warrant Officer-4 with 27 years of service on Dec. 31, 1962.

Tom married Pansy Eaves Young on March 20, 1948, in Houston. They were married for 62 years and shared many interesting travels and projects together.

During the World War II buildup, Tom served in the Army Recruiting Service in Houston, Jacksonville and Palestine, Texas. During the last half of 1940, the most active six months for Army enlistments in history, he commanded the Palestine Army Recruiting Substation, which had more enlistments than any other substation in the southwest states except two, which had ten percent more enlistments (though more than four times the populations). Tom's emphasis on high school graduates led to more enlistments in all categories. His later military service included tours at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Houston Recruiting District, Camp Beauregard, La., southern France during WWII and later back in the Houston Recruiting District again, Hawaii, Korea, Japan, Germany, San Antonio and several other locations in the U.S, as a Personnel Officer. He retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer-4 with 27 years of service on Dec. 31, 1962.

During WWII, he attended an Army engineer supply course at the Army Adjutant General's School, leading all three classes at graduation.

After retirement, he attended Texas Tech University, received his BA cum laude and an MA degree, and completed all of his doctoral work in psychology, except the dissertation, when he dropped out for health reasons.

Tom was active for some years in Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Disease Information, Arms Control Association, National Peace Foundation, Peace Action, Council for a Livable World, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other public service organizations.

Tom was a longtime member of St. John's United Methodist Church, Methodist Men, Aldersgate Sunday School Class and the ministry at St. John's UMC. He was also a life member of the Retired Officers Association, Disabled American Veterans, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Friends of the Lubbock Library, Knife and Fork Club and League of Women Voters. He was former vice president and longtime executive committee member of the Lubbock chapter of the NAACP and former president of the Lubbock Ecumenical Council on Social Concerns.

Loss of hearing forced Tom to drop out of all local activities except managing the magazine rack at St. John's United Methodist Church. He gained an interest in race relations from his grandparents who came to help his father when Tom's mother died when he was 3 years old. In 1857, when Tom's grandfather was 10 years old, he worked with his mother and two older sisters at a station in the Underground Railroad in south central Kentucky. In the military, he also had experience with beginning racial integration after he was grown.

Tom is survived by his wife; his daughter, Tommie Jean and son-in-law Bill Klise of Ruidoso, N.M.; 13 grandchildren of San Antonio, Texas, and the Buffalo, N.Y. area; many great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and one living sister, Mary Ruth Burtis of Sherman, Texas.

He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Frederick W. Burtis and Etta Mae (Hill) Burtis; son, Thomas Ray Burtis Jr.; sister, Naomi Ada Russell; half-sister, Anne Lorene Burtis; and half-brother, Bobby Burtis.

The family requests memorials to Lubbock Meals on Wheels, St. John's United Methodist Church of Lubbock, or a favorite charity.

From The Lubbock Avalanche Journal, January 4, 2011

Family links: 
  Frederick William Burtis (1880 - 1950)
  Etta Mae Hill Burtis (1890 - 1921)
  Thomas Ray Burtis (1943 - 2000)*
  Naomi Ada Burtis Russell (1916 - 2006)*
  Thomas Ray Burtis (1918 - 2010)
  Robert Fallis Burtis (1932 - 1949)**
*Calculated relationship
Body donated to medical science
Specifically: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Created by: Susann
Record added: Jan 04, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 63703369
Thomas Ray Burtis
Added by: Susann
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