Cover photo for John Morgan Burka's Obituary
John Morgan Burka Profile Photo
1928 John 2023

John Morgan Burka

January 17, 1928 — April 25, 2023


John Morgan Burka (1928-2023) went to Glory on April 25, 2023. He fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. There is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, as promised in 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

John was born in Dayton, TN, January 17, 1928 to John Francis Burka and Melrose Cunnyngham Burka. He graduated from Knoxville High School in 1945 and the University of Tennessee School of Engineering in 1949.

John served as a deacon and Bible class teacher at Arlington Church of Christ, where he was a faithful member all his years in Knoxville.  He even filled in preaching now and then.  They hosted teen groups in their home. He and Laura served many meals at the Christian Student Center at UT, as well as at the homeless shelter and Meals on Wheels.  

John served in ROTC in both high school and university; he entered active service in 1951 and went to Korea during that conflict. During three years in the Army, he achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. He worked forty years for Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), becoming Chief Engineer at the Water Bureau. He served as the president of the American Water Works Association, Kentucky/Tennessee Section for a time.

John married Laura Allen on Sunday, September 10, 1950 at Arlington Church of Christ. They have celebrated 72 years of married life. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. Over the years, John and Laura have gathered the family together for vacations at the beach, to sail on two cruises, and to spend holidays at mountain chalets. John truly loved getting news of the successes of one of his kids or grandkids. He followed their educations, their jobs and their families, attending as many graduations and weddings as possible.

John and Laura learned to scuba dive and took diving trips to Hawaii, Florida Keys, and the Caribbean. They traveled to Europe, England, the Baltic, Australia, and New Zealand, and every state in the US.  They were backpack partners who hiked one thousand miles on the Appalachian Trail between 1978 and1987. For eighteen years they spent winters in Key Largo, FL.

John was an artist at heart.  He always enjoyed sketching, began painting in the ’60’s, studied oil painting under Jim Gray in the ’70’s, and belonged to the Tennessee Artist Association. He painted over 146 oil paintings which were displayed at area libraries and entered in area art shows and the county fair.  He carved many sculptures and 3D pictures of things in nature. 

John was also a great musician. He loved to sing and to play the piano. He learned about chords and taught himself to write over 90 pieces, some instrumental, but most with accompanying lyrics. He enjoyed poetry and always composed a poem to Laura on special occasions. Many of his songs were hymns and show his heart for the Bible and Jesus. 

The family wants to thank special caregiver Vicki Allen and special friends Mark and Sammie French.

John will be greatly missed by friends and family alike. His curiosity and creativity were hallmarks of an active mind. His involvement in outdoor activities, hiking and swimming, helped him maintain his good health into his nineties. His devotion to God and to his wife and family are an example to all who know him. John was a real inspiration!

He is preceded in death by his father, John Francis Burka; mother, Melrose Cunnyngham Burka.

He is survived by wife, Laura Allen Burka; children, David Burka (Melissa), James “Butch” Burka (Joquita), and Janet Rose Whalen (Paul); grandchildren, Zachary Whalen (Stacy), Scott Burka (Abbie), Samuel Whalen, Todd Burka (Lauren), Andrew Whalen, Laura Hill (Chris), and Amy Burka (Jake Smith); great grandchildren, Wendy, Serena, Daniel and Cecily Whalen, William and Thomas Burka, Caroline and Caleb Hill; sisters, Lindarose McMahan (Jay), Sue Donna Allen.

Family and friends will meet on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 10:45am at Greenwood Cemetery for an 11:00am graveside service officiated by Mark Brackney. 

Visitation will be on Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 12:00pm until 1:00pm at Arlington Church of Christ, 2206 Tacoma Dr., Knoxville, TN 37917, with a Celebration of Life Service following at 1:00pm with Mark Brackney officiating. 

Condolences can be left for the family at


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Saturday, April 29, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Arlington Church of Christ

2206 Tecoma Dr., Knoxville, TN 37917

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Arlington Church of Christ

2206 Tecoma Dr, Knoxville, TN 37917

Mark Brackney officiating

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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