In Memory

James G. Burba

Published Apr 12, 2015 at 12:02AM

Nov. 25, 1936 - April 8, 2015

James Griffin Burba (78) died on April 8, 2015, at St. Charles Medical Center. He was born November 25, 1936, in McAlester, Oklahoma. He earned a BA from Benedictine Heights College and a MA from the University of Missouri. Jim joined the USAF shortly after graduating college, and served the country as a "Missileer" during his 26 year career. He retired as a Colonel but was extremely proud to be inducted as an honorary Chief Master Sargent at the time of his retirement. Jim was married to Joan Claudia Gill for 58 years. They married in Oklahoma, and moved through the United States on active duty assignments with the growing family of five children in tow. Jim and Joan moved to Bend in 1993, happy to have found their own personal paradise. Jims careers after the Air Force included 10 years as an executive with Hughes Space and Communications and four years with LionHeart Consulting. After retiring for the third time, he worked for the state court system as a court-connected mediator. Jim was a member of the Association of Air Force Missileers, was active in the Central Oregon chapter of the Military Officers Association (COMOA), and served the Sunriver Music Festival as a development consultant. He was active with Volunteers in Action up to his death. He loved motorhome travel with Joan and dog Maggie, especially exploring and fishing the Oregon coast with close friends. Jim is survived by his wife, Joan of Bend; and his sister, Judy (Dale) Roth of Boise. He was preceded in death by his parents, Cranston and Gwendolyn Burba of McAlester, Oklahoma; and his daughter, Karen Bortz. Surviving children are Cheryl (Jack) Reutemann and Lynn (Gregory) Jones of Virginia, and Michael (Marian) Burba, and Robert Burba of California. His thirteen grandchildren are Wendy Furuuchi, James David Bailey, Andrew Bortz, Michael Bortz, Aaron Jones, Amy Jones, Hailey Smith, Galen Smith, Claudia Reutemann, Justin Burba, Trevor Burba, Nick Reutemann, and Joi Morgan. He was also loved by his two nieces, Elaine Copperi and Lisa Young. His four great-grandchildren are Devon Furuuchi, Sherriann Furuuchi, Willa Bailey, and Baby girl Bailey.

A Memorial Service is scheduled for Monday, April 13, at 2:00 p.m., at Niswonger-Reynolds Funeral Home, 105 NW Irvine Avenue, in Bend. Interment will be private. Memorial donations may be made in Jims name to Volunteers in Action, PO Box 7856, Bend, Oregon 97708, or the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend.


Hello All,

I'm certain that we all feel the loss of Jim even though it may have been a while since some of us have seen him. I certainly celebrate his life and our good fortune to know him and Joan. He and Joan and Sandy and I were together at Grand Forks back in 1979 and 1980. Jim was in Operations and was the "go to" person on virtually every subject. I came to the 321st SMW in July of 1979 and Jim and Joan were instrumental in helping us get settled in and up to speed. The longer I worked with Jim, the more I came to realize he was a walking encyclopedia of everything having to do with missiles. He established an outstanding wing command post operations that was critical for the Wing leadership to keep current on everything that was happening during ORI's and in my time one brief but real higher alert state.

As a Squadron Commander he was superb in all respects. He, of course, was the person we turned to to get all of the troops charged up for the missile comps at Vandenburg and he did a great job! Back then the 321st had a chant of "Can't Be Beet" (we were in sugar beet country). Jim had our pet Beet up on the stage and it was great watching him make it come alive. After 10 minutes of Jim's cheerleading, he could have had everyone in the 321st climb up every sunflower elevator in North Dakota -- and maybe take a couple to Vandenburg as trophies!

Along with all of you, I'll greatly miss Jim but I won't remember him with a tear but with a great smile and much admiration. He has left us all as well as the missile force and the US Air Force with a great legacy!