Oklahoma football: Bob Burris dies at age 84
Bob Burris, the middle of five brothers who played football at OU and a 1955 all-Big Seven halfback, died Saturday at the age of 84.
Burris’ older brothers, Buddy and Kurt, were Sooner stars, too. Buddy was a three-time all-American lineman in the 1940s, and Kurt was the 1954 Outland Trophy as a linebacker/center.
Burris grew up in Muskogee and played on some of the best high school teams in state history. Bo Bolinger, Max Boydston and Kurt Burris were OU all-Americans off those Muskogee teams.
Bob Burris rushed for 1,236 yards in 238 career carries as a Sooner. He scored 15 touchdowns.
Burris coached high school football in Pauls Valley; Hobbs, New Mexico; Midland, Texas; Big Springs, Texas; Port Arthur, Texas, and Ardmore. He coached college football at Northeastern State and Oklahoma State. Burris eventually entered the oil business in Oklahoma City.
“He was something special,” said Bill Towe, Burris’ stepson.
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. January 17 at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City.
“I was No. 8 out of 11 kids,” Burris told me a few years ago. “Had to live on a farm just to make it. You develop a lot of discipline. Gotta get up and milk those cows every morning. Gather eggs, feed the chickens, chop cotton, haul hay. That helped us as much as everything.
“Chain of command comes into effect. You always knew who was the boss. The older one. Dad told Kurt to go milk the cows, and Kurt told me, and I told Lyle, and (eventually, youngest sister) Patsy would have to go milk the cows. Farm life is lost, just not much of it left. It was all physical instead machinery. Dad would pay us 10 cents a row to chop corn. Half a mile long. Take all day to get a dime. But a dime was a dime back in those days. Cost us a dime to get in the movie.
“We had a lot of fun and lot of success at Muskogee. But you didn't realize it at the time. At OU, you got serious. I'll never forget, Coach (Bud) Wilkinson, my sophomore year, the night before the Texas-OU game, I'm sitting up on the front row, he gives us a big speech. About halfway through, he said there's going to be 85,000 people in the stands. We'd already played Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, so that wasn't a big deal. Then he said there's going to be another 30 million watching on TV. I said, ‘He said 30 million people?’ That'll get your attention.”