|Five generations of the Burks: seated are Welcom and Roscoe Burk, Prescott Valley (great-great grandparents), standing from left are John and Trudy Burk, Michigan (grandparents), Michelle Burk, Michigan (mother) holding Landon Burk, Michigan, Jerry and Linda Burk, Prescott Valley (great grandparents).|
|Roscoe and Welcom Burk, both 91, met at Bible College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Roscoe says, tongue in cheek, that the secret to his happy marriage is to give in to everything Welcom wants.|
The secret to a long and happy marriage is to give in to everything the wife wants. That's what Roscoe Burk said as he looked lovingly at Welcom, his wife since 1939, a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous smile on his face.
"Sure," Welcom replied with a grin of her own.
The Burks will celebrate their 70th anniversary on Oct. 12. Their daughter says they still hold hands.
Bethel Baptist Church is having a potluck in their honor Oct. 11 immediately after Sunday morning worship services.
The couple, who moved to Prescott Valley 16 years ago, met at Ft. Wayne Bible College in Indiana.
"I was going with a girl from back home for three years and she sent me the ring and a letter with 'Sorry' written on it," Roscoe said. "I was heartbroken but a friend told me to be happy because he didn't like her."
Two weeks before graduation, Roscoe and Welcom met while pruning bushes on campus. He got her a pair of gloves for her sore hands, and later got in line behind her at a cookout. Afterwards, they went for a walk. She next attended a summer Bible camp and they saw each other about three times.
"That was the size of our courtship," Roscoe said.
That fall, he was assigned as pastor to a church that wanted a married man.
"I took her right out of college and married her," he said. "We've had a very good marriage and four wonderful kids we think the world of."
The couple went through some rough times, he noted.
During the Depression, the average weekly offering from the Methodist country church he served in Michigan was five dollars.
They rented a "little dinky place up the street from the church." The outhouse had a leaky roof and a pregnant Welcom had to brush the snow off the seat.
They paid the doctor $13 to deliver their firstborn, Jerry, now a PV resident. Sharon, Iris and David followed.
During his 65 years of preaching, Roscoe pastored churches in California, Iowa and Michigan. He also worked for six years at a ranch for 500 alcoholic men.
"It was my duty to keep them off the booze," he said. "They were nice until they got booze in 'em, then they were as ornery as can be."
Roscoe said he once had a sip of champagne, has never tasted beer, and smoked a single pack of cigarettes as a "smart aleck kid." He attributes his good health to staying away from such vices.
For three months in 1952, while Welcom tended the children, he and another pastor traveled Africa, India, Japan and the Wake Islands as missionaries.
His most vivid memories are of the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, and safely fleeing a hotel fire there after a riot by the nationals over British domination.
But their favorite place to live is "right here" in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Roscoe said. Until retirement five years ago, the Burks spent five months of each year in Lake Havasu City, preaching at RV parks.
The congregation at The Islander grew from 16 to more than 200 and gave them a handmade commemorative quilt signed by the members when they retired permanently to Prescott Valley.
Age - they're both 91 - has forced them to relinquish some of the pastimes they once loved - softball for Roscoe and playing piano for Welcom. But they still enjoy their church, their family, and each other.
"We always tried to do what we felt was pleasing to God," Roscoe said. "We have a good marriage because of the blessings of the Lord. I couldn't ask for a better companion. We've had a harmonious life."
Bethel Baptist Church is at 6901 E. Horizon Lane, Prescott Valley. Phone is 772-7602.