SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Bob Burks has seen and done an awful lot in his lifetime. The longtime Springfield resident helped the Allies win the war in the Pacific in World War II and like so many others he remains humble about his service to the country.
So, is there a secret to living past 100?
“Well, I didn’t drink or smoke,” said Burks. “And my wife made me quit running around with wild women so I lived.”
That sense of humor served Burks well in his three years as a medic in the Pacific Theater as a Navy pharmacist’s mate and a Marine Corpsman.
Burks was motivated to enlist after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Hearing of his friends’ deaths motivated him further.
“All my friends were captured in the Philippines,” said Burks. “I was angry at the Japanese. Anything I could accomplish to end the war I did. I lost so many friends in the Philippines.”
Burks and his fellow greatest generation veterans’ efforts ended World War II which saved the world from tyranny. After an honorable discharge, Burks and his parents moved from New Mexico to Springfield, Missouri where he met his wife Barabara. In those 75 plus years, he’s learned a thing or two about marriage.
“If you’re married, you’ve got to know she’s the boss,” said Burks.
Burks and his wife raised three boys and are proud grandparents to five and great grandparents to eight.
He worked 25 years for the Bureau of Prisons before retiring and recently turned 101.
“Birthdays? Yes,” said Burks. “They should be forgotten as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had too many. That’s a lot of candles on a cake. Oh my…”
Burks would much rather talk about his wife.
“She’s my main concern. the boys are all raised,” said Burks. “Good families. I’ve done everything I’ve needed to do. So she’s the only thing I’m concerned about. Me, I can go tomorrow because there’s not much I’ve missed. That’s the way I look at it.”