W.M. "Bill" Burkes, Jr.

February 23, 1931December 20, 2018
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W.M. “Bill” Burkes, 87, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, (John 14:3) on December 20, 2018. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m., Saturday, December 22, 2018 at College Avenue Baptist Church in McGregor, with Pastors Carroll Hambrick and David Thompson officiating. Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Friday, December 21, 2018 at Cole Funeral Home in McGregor.

Mr. Burkes was born on February 23, 1931 to William Marion Burkes, Sr. and Mary Wilson Burkes in Gilmer, Texas. He married Nadine Duff in Dayton, Ohio in November 1953. Bill made his profession of faith in Jesus Christ, at the age of 11, at Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas. He was a member of, and served in, several churches over his lifetime. Bill served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, choir member, nursing home minister, and on many committees at College Avenue Baptist Church, in McGregor. He also filled in, as needed, leading the music and preaching.

Bill loved big band, classical, and Gaither music. He sang in a barbershop quartet and chorus for several years as a bass. Bill was an avid arrowhead collector for many years. He dug up a good bit of Central Texas dirt and brought it home on his clothes.

After graduation from Sunset High School in Dallas in 1948 and Texas A&M in 1952, with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, Bill served two years in the U.S. Air Force as a First Lieutenant. His first duty station was at the University of Michigan doing graduate studies in Missile Engineering, and then assigned to Wright Air Development Center in Dayton, Ohio, in the Operations Division Fighter Aircraft Development Branch. Bill transferred to the Strategic Missiles Branch in the B-63 Long Range Stand-Off Missile Project Office where he was the nuclear weapons integration officer for the application to the B-36 and B-47 carrier/launch aircraft. After discharge from USAF in August 1954, Bill worked in special weapons, control surfaces, and fuselage design groups and aerodynamics analysis. He was a Senior Test Engineer in the structural/mechanical test laboratory working on the B-36, YB-60, B-58, TF-102, and the B-36N nuclear propulsion testbed aircraft.

In January 1957, Bill moved to McGregor where he was employed by a succession of companies, which managed the Solid Propellant Rocket Facility there: Phillips, Astrodyne, Rocketdyne/North American, and Hercules Missiles and Ordinance. He worked in design and analysis, system and project engineering, program management, and technical marketing. Bill worked on the many research and development and production programs at the plant, including the propulsion units for the Sidewinder, Phoenix, Sparrow, Shrike, Harm, Amraam, and Condor missiles. He holds patents on components relating to technologies in solid propellant rockets, gas generators, integral rocket/ramjets, and ducted rockets. Bill was also involved in the space program working on projects related to lunar flights within the Saturn 5 program, including Apollo flights. He was also involved with propulsion in the space shuttle program. After retirement from Hercules, in April 1989, Bill and Nadine spent over 13 years with Texas Baptist Men Retiree Church Builders as volunteers. Bill served as a carpenter doing structural framing, roofing, and sheetrock installation. He helped construct over 100 church buildings across Texas. Bill said that there were great blessings working with fellow builders and worshipping with the congregations of all the churches. He was a lifetime blood donor, having given over 14 gallons during a 50 plus year span.

Bill leaves behind his wife, Nadine; son Alan Duff Burkes and wife, Brenda; daughter, Dianne Burkes; two grandchildren, Bradley Alan Burkes and Alicia Dianne Burkes Low and husband, T.J.; and two great-great grandchildren, Hudson and Reese Low.

The family would like to thank the Baylor Scott & White Hospice group for their care and support. Charitable contributions may be made, in Bill’s memory, to College Avenue Baptist Church, 201 S. Monroe, McGregor, Texas 76657.


  • Bill leaves behind his wife, Nadine; son Alan Duff Burkes and wife, Brenda; daughter, Dianne Burkes; two grandchildren, Bradley Alan Burkes and Alicia Dianne Burkes Low and husband, T.J.; and two great-great grandchildren, Hudson and Reese Low.

  • College Avenue Baptist Church


  • Visitation Friday, December 21, 2018
  • Funeral Service Saturday, December 22, 2018

W.M. "Bill" Burkes, Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Tom Harris

January 11, 2019

My memories of Bill go back to January, 1960, when our family moved to McGregor, Texas, and I became employed at Astrodyne. Pretty sure that Bill was the first to invite us to church about the first day on the job, and he and his wife, Nadine were the first to visit us at our home, telling us more about College Avenue Baptist Church and about McGregor. That began 60 years of friendship, although our family moved to South Texas after 18 years in McGregor. During those 18 years Bill and I played many games of tennis, enjoyed the Barbershop Chorus in Waco and forming our own quartet with two other friends, and participating in chorus and quartet programs mostly in the Waco area. Most of our worship, service, and social activities related to CABC programs in which Bill and family were always in attendance. I've had only occasional opportunity to spend time with Bill during the past 40 years, but he was always considered a dear friend and we'll resume a closer friendship some day.

LaVerne Cocke

December 25, 2018

I and some other former employees of the Farmers Home Administration remember a William Burkes who also worked for FmHA and was once employed in the Temple, TX State Office as Rural Housing Chief. We note that the obituary, however, doesn't mention employment with FmHA, USDA.

If possible, please let me know if your lost one is the one we remember. We pray for the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus Christ to surround you and your family.

LaVerne Cocke

Kenny Robison

December 21, 2018

Blessed memories from time spent at the Burkes' home. My first years in the ministry were during the mid-late 70s in McGregor as Music and Youth Minister at College Ave. Baptist Church. I was able to observe Bill in every walk of life at church and at home. Sunday afternoon lunch was a regular occurrence for me, and I watched many a Cowboy game in the Burkes living room. This family will always remain to me as true and faithful friends. I love them all, and I value the exposure I had to Bill Burkes. He is a man who has had untold influence on scores of people - and this one music minister in particular. Blessings for the Burkes family.