Former pastor, director of missions and development officer John Claude Burnham of St. Joseph died on April 13 at his home. He was 79.
Funeral services were to be held at 10 a.m. on April 18 at King Hill Baptist Church in St. Joseph, with interment in Friends Church Cemetery in Rose Hill, Kan.
Burnham was born Aug. 6, 1928, in Lubbock, Texas, to Ralph W. Burnham and Geneva M. Smith Burnham. He married his high school sweetheart, Melba Jo Decker, on August 18, 1946.
He studied at Howard Payne College, Brownwood, Texas; Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Berkley, Calif.; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; and earned a doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
Burnham was ordained to the pastoral ministry in 1947. He was a pator of Baptist churches in Texas, Indiana and New Mexico, and served as minister of Christian education in Independence and Kirkwood, Mo., as well as Prairie Village, Kan. He served as director of missions for St. Joseph Baptist Association for 17 years and as development officer for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home for 14 years.
Burnham was named Director of Missions of the Year for Missouri in October 1988. Midwestern Seminary recognized him as one of its first field education supervisors in 1987 and was a pastoral aid supervisor. He served as a Project Assisting Churches in Transition (PACT) consultant for the Home Mission Board and Missouri Baptist Convention. He helped start new churches and mission points in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa.
John loved His Lord and faithfully served Him. He loved people, his family life and his life in the ministry. He loved the churches and pastors that he served, the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, the staff and the children. He was always positive, fun loving, and used his harmonica to the pleasure of his audience, young and old. His entire family loved his harmonica playing and he was always entertaining them. He would entertain on the tours he and Melba took together.
He was a qualified pilot instructor and gave flying lessons in his spare time. He flew in every state except Hawaii, and was an avid photographer. For 25 years, he and his wife hosted tour groups to many places, including the Holy Land.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Melba; his children, Patricia Brown, and her husband, Charles, of Midwest City, Okla., Mark Burnham of Hamburg, Germany and Nancy Carol Yates of Gravois Mills, Mo; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two step great-grandchildren; three brothers; and three sisters.
His parents; a niece, Gwen Ruslikas; and a nephew, Martin Burnham, preceded him in death.
The family requests that memorials be given to Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, 11300 St. Charles Rock Rd., Bridgeton, MO 63044; Hands of Hope Hospice, 137 N. Belt Hwy., St. Joseph, MO 64506; or a charity of the donor’s choice.
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