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Neva Gene Burks
Neva Burks passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at Stoney Brook Assisted Living Center in Belton, Texas.
Neva was born January 12, 1934 in Morton, Texas, to Elma “Susie” Barnett Hooks and Rupert Hooks. She had one brother, Roche Lee Hooks.
Neva lived in Morton as a child, and her parents worked on local farms. At this time in her life, she spent a lot of time with her grandmother. In the mid 1940’s, Neva’s family moved to New Mexico and Arizona for work but soon found their way back to Amarillo where she attended Sandburn School and Amarillo High School.
Neva worked several jobs in her young life, including The Pig Hip Drive-In, Kegler’s Club at the bowling alley, and Ruth’s Steakhouse. She loved serving others and always got very good tips.
She started working in the insurance business for Bruce Henderson. Bruce also manufactured mobile homes, and Neva enjoyed helping with the design of these homes. As a single mother, she also waitressed at Ruth’s Steakhouse in the evenings. Neva and Bruce were good friends, and he suggested that she consider working at PIA (Panhandle Insurance Agency) in Amarillo. She began working at PIA for Mr. Wayne O’Keefe. Neva was well respected by the leaders at PIA and was one of the few women writing insurance policies.
A new man began working at PIA by the name of Robert Burks. They were introduced and quickly found they had a lot in common. They were both single parents - Neva had a son, Kyle Heitmiller (Belton, Texas), and Robert had two children, Brad Burks (Denton, Texas) and Darel Burks-Tenhoff (Seattle, Washington). They began dating quickly after Robert joined PIA and started a weekly bowling league together where they made many friends. They dated for a good while, and decided to get married, spontaneously, in Hobbs, New Mexico, by a judge at the local courthouse. Neva later told us the judge required two witnesses for their marriage, so they found a local highway patrolman (who happened to be in the office), along with a man he had in custody, and they witnessed the marriage.
In 1964, Robert and Neva had a daughter, Kelle Teal Burks, who completed their big family. Brad and Darel would often visit Amarillo for the holidays and summer breaks. Neva, Robert, Kyle and Kelle would drive to pick them up in Denver, Colorado. An old StarCraft camper was usually the lodging, and the place was Estes Park. The family had some good times at Estes Park, Colorado. Robert and Neva provided a good childhood for all of their children even though, at times, it was long-distance parenting.
Robert moved up at PIA and soon was promoted to partner. Neva was able to become a stay-at-home mom and stayed busy with her kids and philanthropic work. Neva was a member of P.E.O. for over 50 years where she helped organize many fundraising events. She also chaired and worked events such as Funfest in Amarillo. One of Neva’s favorite things was chairing the Amarillo Epilepsy Art Show. She always did an outstanding job and became lifelong friends with several artists, staying in touch with them until her passing. The Amarillo Art Show became a cultural mecca for several Southwest Artists.
Kelle became very interested in horses, and Will Rogers Range Riders Club became a new place for Robert and Neva. Kelle was the Will Rogers Rodeo Queen one year with her horse, Stormy. Robert and Neva did a lot of work at the Range Riders Club, helping with organizing and fundraising. Kelle, Brad, Darel, and Kyle would ride horses at Range Riders Club, and they often tell the story about when Darel had a runaway horse - the horse ran all the way back to the barn from way out in the prairie. These were the best of times for Neva. The family went to most of the rodeos in the area - Dalhart and Range Riders were their favorites.
Neva, Robert, and family loved going to camp at Lake Meredith. They had a small boat and a StarCraft camper and would drive the 60 miles to the lake for a fun weekend of skiing and camping. Neva, Robert, and all the kids were good water skiers (TBH, Brad was probably the best).
Robert and Neva bought some property in Red River, New Mexico. The family spent many winters in Red River skiing and hanging out. They both loved the slopes. They left Red River and bought a place in the mountains outside of Angel Fire, New Mexico. It was a single-wide up on a switchback road, and they spent a lot of family time there in the 70’s and 80’s. A nicer house became available on the main road down the mountain from their place, and Robert and Neva bought it. They had so many family outings there - they both loved Angel Fire and spent countless days there. Neva would spend up to a month in the summer and winter in Angel Fire and became a good snow skier. It was always so cool to have a place where Robert and Neva’s kids could take their families for a vacation (TBH, Brad was most def the best skier).
Neva loved her home in Amarillo where she enjoyed hosting parties and events. Her and Robert entertained a lot at their home on Gatewood and had an immaculate yard. They both took very good care of Neva’s mother, Elma Hooks. They kept a house for her and made sure she had a good vehicle. Grandmother Hooks was a special person and was so well cared for by Robert and Neva.
For years, Neva, Robert, and their young family attended St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Georgia Street in Amarillo. After St. Andrews burned down in 1996, Neva and Robert began attending St. Thomas Catholic Church on Coulter Road, just blocks from their home, where they became very involved. They became very good friends with Monsignor Joseph Tash and traveled with him on many memorable trips to the Holy Land and Rome. Robert and Neva were also members of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, and they traveled with this group, as well. They attended daily mass and considered their faith a cornerstone of their family’s foundation.
Their house on Gatewood was their home for years. Robert passed away in June 2014, and Neva continued living there until 2018. Neva made the decision to move to Central Texas to a little town called Salado. It was just down the road from Kyle and Pam in Belton and very close to her granddaughters, Bailey and Blair in Salado. Neva lived on Chisholm Trail, just four houses down from Bailey's family. With so many family and friends close by, Neva quickly felt right at home in Central Texas. She loved the short few years spent in Salado with her many friends she made and her church family at Saint Stephen’s.
Neva would often drive and spend time at Kyle and Pam’s house in Belton, where so many memories were made on Sundown Street - birthdays, holidays, showers, engagements, etc. With five great-grandkids in the same neighborhood, Neva was seldom lonely. Her home and her backyard were a haven for kids. She enjoyed going to family outings, sports games, and holiday celebrations. Grandneva knew all of her great-grandchildren very well. They always knew how much she loved them, and she knew how much they loved her. Gracen, Granger, and Blake became so sad when their Greeva became ill. It was a joy seeing all the kids know their great-grandmother so well.
Her last move was to Stoney Brook Assisted Living Center in Belton. Neva lived there for over a year and continued attending all family events, games, holidays, and birthdays. The staff at Stoney Brook loved Neva and enjoyed her humor and her grace - and she loved them back.
Neva is preceded in death by her husband Robert, her parents, brother, infant sons Dickie and David, and great-grandchildren, Levi Machac and Gwyneth Glos.
She is survived by her son Kyle Heitmiller (Pam) of Belton, daughter Kelle Simon (Jim) of Dallas, son Brad Burks (Mishelle) of Denton and daughter Darel Tenhoff (Craig) of Washington; grandchildren Brett Bagley (Robert), Blair Hodges (Clayton), Ben Hall (Brandilyn), Brooke Machac (A.J.) Elizabeth Gunn (Matt), Bailey Glos (Brady), Beau Heitmiller and fiancé Bayleigh, Matt Burks (Hannah), Katie LeJeune (Mike), Ryan Burks (Jordan), Abby Zoubkov (Mark) and her sister Flora Cox . Neva’s great-grandchildren, who brought her so much joy, Bennett, Kyle, Graham, Blake, Elliot, Liam, Emery, Hadlee, Maggie, Brewer, Everett, Amelia, Alex, Claire, Gracen, Granger, Natalie and Holly.
Neva will be missed by us all, and we know she is in Heaven surrounded by family and friends that have been waiting for her.
We love you, Neva Gene. Rest in Peace.