Claude Burkhead, Jr. passed away Sunday, January 18, 2015. He resided at Glenaire Retirement Community in Cary, NC. Claude was born November 1, 1926 in Candor, Montgomery County, NC to the late Claude and Edna Burkhead, Sr. Claude proudly achieved Eagle in Boy Scouts, learned to fly a variety of aircraft from crop duster Jack Reynolds, served during WWII with the US Army Air Corp in 1945, and graduated in Electrical Engineering from NC State College (now University) in 1948.
On June 26, 1949 he married the love of his life, Mary Rebecca Beasley of Vass, NC. From 1949 until 1994 he lived in Fayetteville and raised a family of four while moving up to Chief of Electrical Engineering at PWC (Public Works Commission). Serving as Deacon, Elder, and Treasurer at MacPherson Presbyterian Church, Claude’s devotion to his wife and family was upheld by his strong faith and love of his Lord.
Well, he did love his flying, too. His father bought an Ercoupe in 1946 that he and Mary later flew to their honeymoon. Claude was still flying with his son in this same aircraft as recently as a January 2nd flight to his favorite BBQ restaurant in Carthage, NC. Throughout his life he was always flying his family and friends, becoming a ‘Certified Flight Instructor – Instruments’ to teach others his passion. His Commercial rating enabled many enjoyable flights as a corporate pilot. In 2011 the FAA bestowed the coveted Master Pilot Award for over 50 years of safe professional airmanship. Retirement to Columbus, NC allowed Claude to continue to travel and camp with Mary and his family throughout the US, and to fly ultralights. He was a member of Columbus Presbyterian Church. In 2007 Claude and Mary moved to Cary, NC where they joined Cary Presbyterian Church and immersed themselves in the lively Glenaire Retirement Community. There they made many new friends, brought smiles and cheer to everyone, enjoyed their family, and remained deeply in love with each other.
Preceding Claude in death was his loving wife of 65 years, Mary Rebecca Beasley Burkhead, who passed away on January 9, 2015. He is survived by his daughters, Mary Edna Fraser and husband Dr. John Sperry of Charleston, SC; Laura Burkhead of Grimesland, NC; Rebecca Burkhead of Durham, NC; and son Claude Burkhead, III and his wife Debby of Apex, NC; grandchildren Sarah Labanna and Rebecca West, Clayton and Jake, and Danielle and Mary; and great grandchild Summer Grace. A memorial service will be held 2:00pm Friday, January 23, 2015 in the Main Auditorium at Glenaire Retirement Community, 4000 Glenaire Circle, Cary, NC 27511. Friends can visit with family in the Rotunda at a reception immediately following the service. The family acknowledges with sincere appreciation the loving care provided to Claude and Mary by the extraordinary folks at Glenaire. In lieu of flowers please feel free to make any donations to Cary Presbyterian Church or Glenaire Retirement Community. Please view a tribute to Claude at: www.cremnc.com/memsol.cgi?user_id=1503572 .