Beloved father, honored grandfather, and well-known local business owner Pat Burks passed away at his home on Jan. 11, 2014, following a 15-month battle against leukemia (AML).
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others – Pericles. Beloved father, honored grandfather, and well-known local business owner Pat Burks passed away at his home on Jan. 11, 2014, following a 15-month battle against leukemia (AML). Born Feb. 10, 1932, in Blytheville to Eddie Williams and Sadie McAfee Burks, Pat was the youngest of three children. The most significant event of his life occurred as he moved from Sudbury Elementary School to Blytheville Junior High to attend the seventh grade. There, he met his future best friend, business partner and wife, Mary Jo Eaton. Following graduation from Blytheville High School, he attended college at the University of Arkansas. While there he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and ROTC. After he and Mary Jo married on Sept. 16, 1953 and earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Entomology, he joined the Air Force to fulfill his contract with ROTC. While stationed in Albuquerque, N.M., at Kirtland Air Force Base, the couple had their only child, Rhonnie, in January 1955. The summer of 1956 found the young family packing up to move back to Blytheville where Pat farmed for several years and also opened two restaurants, one that specialized in homemade and hand rolled hot tamales. Chapman Chemical Co. of Memphis, Tenn., hired Pat in 1963 and moved the family to Hughes. In 1965, Pat purchased the Chapman Chemical location in Helena and soon became well known throughout several counties in two states for working the same hours as local farmers and being on call 24/7 to help his customers select the right herbicide or insecticide and then to be on hand to calibrate the application rig to insure a proper application. Over the next 48 years, Planters Service and its sister companies that were established or partnered by Pat continued to provide nearly any service a farmer might need. In 1974, the company moved to Walnut Corner and boasted the area's International Harvester dealership, soon adding Versatile and a whole array of short lines to the lineup. A second location in Marianna was added in 1977. A true entrepreneur, Pat, along with wife Mary Jo firmly ensconced at his side, continued to grow Planters Service and entered into many partnerships. Along the way, he ran a cotton gin and warehouse (Nuway), a crop dusting service (Planters Ag Aviation, Inc.), handled sales and repair to irrigation pivots (ISI), expanded retail fertilizer sales and application into Mississippi (FSA), expanded liquid fertilizer storage and loading facilities on the Mississippi River at the Helena Bridge (FSI), purchased the current location for Planters Service on Highway 20 in Helena and expanded the storage and handling facilities to over 100,000 tons of dry and liquid fertilizer storage and handling facilities to include barges, trains, and trucks, and built one of the largest biodiesel manufacturing plants in the country at the time. It was recognized by his peers that Pat was an above average businessman and was asked to serve on several boards over the years. Most notably, he sat as a member of the First National Bank of Phillips County Board of Directors, later Southern Bancorp, and was its chairman of the board for many years. He was a member of the Helena First United Methodist Church and served as a member of the Finance Committee. At the time of his death, he was actively serving on the Maple Hill Cemetery Board. It is said that what we give is what makes a life. If this is true, then Pat's life was, well, larger than life. Pat was widely known for his generosity in helping others in need, whether it was a short-term loan or a long-term hand up to a young farmer just starting out. He was more than generous with his family and considered his friends as important as family. He loved sharing whatever he had and if you were in need of something and he didn't have it, would go get it. He was larger than life as well in setting an example of keeping your word or honoring a simple handshake. His parents, his wife, Mary Jo Burks, and son-in-law, Gene Crowley, preceded Pat in death. He leaves his daughter, Rhonnie Burks Crowley of Helena; a grandson, Bernie Crowley of Helena; a granddaughter, Charlee Crowley English (Gene) of Croxton, England; a great-grandson, Callum Rhys English of Croxton, England; a sister, Peggy Warrington of Searcy; a sister- and brother-in-law, Nema and John Perry (Tip) Hollingsworth of Garland, Texas; a niece, Patricia (Bob) Ankrum of Garland; nephews, Roland (Susan) Warrington of Hot Springs, Eddie Lee (Scott) Warrington of Searcy, Albert (Shelley) Hollingsworth of Coleyville, Texas and John (Lisa) Hollingsworth of Frisco, Texas.; and three great-nieces and six great nephews. Visitation was held at the Burks home in Helena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, with services at the Helena First United Methodist Church at on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery. Pallbearers were Jason Warrington, Shane Ankrum, Chance Hollingsworth, John Hollingsworth, Cole Hollingsworth, and Scotty Fraiser. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate in Pat's memory to your favorite charity or join them in supporting the Boys & Girls Club of Phillips County, P. O. Box 511, Helena, AR 72342 or the Humane Society of the Delta, P. O. Box 3218, Helena-West Helena, AR 72390. Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena-West Helena, directed 2571. Friends and relatives may sign the online guest book at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.