Wallace "Wally" Sigfrid Burman, Jr. was born to Wallace "Wally" and Edythe "Sue" Burman on February 8, 1950, in Elgin, Illinois. He was raised there with older sister, Diane, and younger brother, Stan.
Wally’s passion for music started young. He played flute and piccolo in the school orchestra then in church services later in life. He was also athletic and proud of his achievements in high school gymnastics including his ability to execute a perfect iron cross. Young Wally was active in Boy Scouts. His love of outdoors carried through family camping trips into his adulthood. Wally graduated from Larkin High School (Elgin) in 1968.
In January of 1967, Wally met Sue Shelton at a sock hop at Larkin High School. He asked her to dance and it was the start of a 51 year love affair. They married on October 2, 1970, at Grace United Methodist Church. Wally had been drafted to serve in the United States Army and left for Vietnam not long after they were married. When he returned home to Sue in 1972, they settled in South Elgin, Illinois, to start their family. In 1974, they became parents of their first daughter, Dawn. In 1977, they were blessed with their second daughter, Jennifer.
In March of 1979, the family moved to Tolono, Illinois, where they raised their daughters. They frequently returned to Wally’s mother’s house in Elgin for summer breaks and winter holidays where cousins would swim, explore the creek, play pool, or even sled, depending on the weather. Wally and Sue shared many good times there sharing cocktails with Grandma Sue, playing pinochle with Diane and Larry, and singing around the organ while Stan played. In Tolono, Wally served his community as an active member of the Tolono United Methodist Church, VFW Post 1237, and Tolono Lions Club. Many youth were supported by Wally’s enthusiastic coaching of t-ball and softball for over 13 years. During this time, Wally worked at the University of Illinois and made several friends he visited long after leaving that position. Driven by his continued love of learning, Wally completed a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in December 1995.
After 29 years residing in central Illinois, Wally had an opportunity to make new friends and finish his career at Southern Illinois University. Wally and Sue moved south to Crainville, Illinois where they became active members of Marion VFW Post 1301 and Energy United Methodist Church. In 2012, they became grandparents at the birth of Alexander Wallace Holmes. Sue preceded Wally in death early in 2018.
In the spring of 2019, Wally met and fell in love with Darla York. Darla and Wally became engaged in March of 2020. The couple began planning for their life together. Wally was staying active, golfing regularly, and minding his health. He was determined to live to see his grandson, Alex, graduate from high school.
Wally was a loving, encouraging father and an amazing grandfather. His daughters treasure memories of silly times with their father including a night where he was “too sexy for his shoes” and another time he was “the only man on the bus.” (They’re good stories – just ask!) Dawn appreciates the many years Wally was her devoted pitching coach as well as how his broad taste in music influenced her own musical journey. She’ll aspire to carry on his positive attitude, love of family, and appreciation of life’s simple pleasures. Jenny shared a love of music with her dad, including fond memories of attending the Woodstock reunion together where they found themselves behind Melissa Ethridge’s stage as she wailed “Piece of My Heart.” Jenny has countless happy memories of karaoke, dancing, and singing with Wally. As Jenny recalls the great conversations they shared, she hopes to carry on how well he could tell a story - adding in little details you think don’t matter but, in the end, they do.
Doug remembers his father-in-law as a jolly, warm, kind-hearted man. He spent many evenings with Wally telling tales, listening to classic rock, and sipping scotch. Wally’s childlike silliness made him an ideal grandfather whom Alex loved very much. Alex fondly remembers golfing with Grandpa, reading books together, and listening to Grandpa read “The Night Before Christmas” to the family on Christmas Eve. Darla shares that Wally was such a kind, gentle, caring man. The couple loved each other and looked forward to writing the next chapter of their lives together.
Wally so loved sharing good times with his family and friends. From church choir to barstool karaoke to songs in the car embarrassing his young daughters, Wally thoroughly enjoyed singing. Many loved ones have recently shared happy memories of Wally with common threads emphasizing his kindness, generosity, and optimism. He recently posted on social media that he was “feeling blissful” stating “Just because it’s cold and rainy doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it’s a warm spring evening and roast hotdogs and s’mores over the embers in a fireplace.” Wally often reminded family that each day has potential to become one of your good old days.
On August 20, 2020, Wally lost the rest of his life to complications of a rapid, aggressive COVID-19 infection. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Sue; his brother, Stan; two sisters-in-law, Debbie and Judy; his niece, Lisa; and his great-nephew, James. He is survived by his sister, Diane; as well as brothers-in-law, Larry, Allan, and John. He’ll be remembered as a loving uncle by Mike, Mark, Steve, Chris, Debbie, Dale, and their families.
The memorial is postponed until family and friends can safely gather to properly celebrate Wally’s life. Donations can be made in Wally’s honor to Wounded Warriors Project (https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/). The family urges those who loved Wally for his kindness to show compassion and adhere to recommendations of the medical community that will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce risk for the most vulnerable members of society. Wally would have offered that you can use this time as he did to slow down – stop and smell the roses. And remember that, even now, you can turn any day into one of your good old days.
Riggin-Pillatsch & Burke Funeral Home in Carterville assisted the family with cremation services.
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Wounded Warrior Project
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