When the children were younger, with both parents working full time, Mary Sue would fold the laundry and sort it into piles for each family member, which they were supposed to put away. The kids didn’t take action as asked, so Don turned it into a family project, having them line up behind him and handing them their stacks, while he whistled the tune to “The Bridge on the River Kwai” as they completed the chore.
“You had to know Dad,” Julie said. “It sounds odd, but it was fun.”
On Dec. 27, Don and Mary Sue’s first great-grandchild was born five weeks premature to Bruce’s daughter, Allison Kappler, and her husband, Andrew, in Lynchburg, Va. Don joked that they should name him Bryce, but they chose Carter Lee. Lee was Don’s middle name as well.
Don got to see photos of Carter, who came home from the hospital the same day Don was buried.
A voracious reader, Don devoured Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, historical fiction and spy thrillers. Julie remembers Don taking them as children to the Williamsport Library and she said it seemed like he never limited the number of books they could check out.
The Burleys always had cats, but Don was never fond of them until Yeti, an overly affectionate yellow tabby, joined the family six years ago. When Don would sleep in his chair, Yeti would lay on his stomach and they’d nap together.
“He and Dad were best buddies,” Jodie said.
Don had had several lengthy health issues, but his death after sustaining a head injury in a fall took the family by surprise.
Bruce wrote a poem to honor his dad, written more as therapy for himself, that was read by the pastor at Don’s memorial service. It painted a picture of a devoted husband and father, a humble man with a strong work ethic who lived a good life.
“That’s my dad,” Bruce said.
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Donald L. Burley, who died Jan. 9 at the age of 76. His obituary was published in the Jan. 10 edition of The Herald-Mail.