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Roy James Burley

October 19, 1914 June 13, 2010
Roy James Burley
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Obituary for Roy James Burley

Roy James Burley, of Brighton and a life long resident of Highland, died early on Sunday morning, June 13, 2010 in the care of hospice and his family at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Howell. He was 95 years old. Born on October 19, 1914 at the family home in Commerce Twp., he was the first born of James and Elizabeth (Clark) Burley's eleven children. When he was ten, his father bought a 90 acre farm on Tipsico Lake Road, just north of Middle Road in Highland. He told his younger siblings it was a cold and rainy day they moved to Highland, in a farm wagon behind a team of horses. His boyhood was spent working with his father and neighboring farmers. Besides the team of horses, the Burleys kept milk cows, pigs and chickens and planted corn, potatoes, wheat and oats and saved hay. Roy and his brother Harold and their dad built a box that fit the flat bed of their truck, sorted their potatoes in 100 pound burlap bags and took them to markets in Detroit. It was Roy who got the idea to raise cucumbers, planting two acres and outfitting his brother, Murray and sister, Thelma in goatskin gloves to protect their fingers from the stems and leaves while picking the cucumbers before they grew too large, because the tiniest ones brought the best price.

Roy attended Hickory Ridge School, a one-room, stone schoolhouse, and then Hartland High School where he played football - drawing out plays on paper and practicing at home with his brothers and sisters and graduated in 1932 with honors. He hired in at Pontiac Motors and, along with his brothers, went into the long distance freight business, driving semis on routes all over the Northeast. He and his brother Harold also operated Burley Motor Sales at Clark and Milford Roads in Highland for many years, building the trucks they used from the frame up. Later Roy worked at and retired from the G.M. Proving Grounds as a mechanic.

On September 28, 1940 he married the love of his life, Phoebe Loella Kinney, at West Highland Baptist Church where they had met. Roy remained an active member of West Highland Baptist for over 70 years and lived most all of his married life very near to the church, first settling on the southwest corner of M-59 and Hickory Ridge Road where he and Phoebe raised their five daughters and later moving just south of the church on Hickory Ridge. As deep as their roots were in West Highland, they enjoyed traveling and road trips to every state in the Union. Roy also served on the Highland Township Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for many years.

Roy Burley was a farm boy who grew up knowing the value of hard work, honest labor, deep faith and a close-knit family. Though his long life was not without its hardships and sorrows, he knew God's grace and the love of his family would see him through. He remained grateful for his abundant blessings.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Phoebe; daughters, Elizabeth Burley of Howell, June (Virgil) Peters of Ashland, KY, Mary Jane (Woody) Fox of Adrian, and Susan Lumley of Muskegon; ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren; siblings, Thelma (Howard) Armstrong, Murray (Mary) Burley, Norma (Norton) Caswell, Ann Ries, Juanita (George) Rogers, and numerous nieces, nephews, and dear friends who join with his family in mourning his death and giving thanks to God for his long life among them.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Ruth Leist, sisters, Hazel, Jean, and Mildred, and brothers, Harold and Ralph.

A Funeral Service will be held at West Highland Baptist Church, 1116 S. Hickory Ridge Road, Milford, on Thursday, June 17, at 11AM, with Pastor Tom Roberts officiating. Burial will follow at West Highland Cemetery. Friends may visit at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty St., Milford, on Wednesday, June 16, 2-8PM. Memorials may be made in his name to St. Joseph Mercy Hospice or to the Am. Diabetes Association. For further information please phone 248-684-6645.

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