Wayne Burkes was born Dec. 6, 1929 in Neshoba County, Mississippi. He was raised on the family farm.
After graduating from Arlington High School and East Central Mississippi Community College, Burkes continued his education at Mississippi College, earning a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. He also earned a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and served as the bi-vocational pastor at the Bolton Baptist Church. Burkes was an active alumnus of Mississippi College for many years. He received the Order of the Golden Arrow and the Mississippi College National “M” Club Distinguished Service award for his contributions to his alma mater.
As an Air Force and Air National Guard pilot, Burkes flew 7,000 hours in eight different Air Force aircraft. He retired after 38 years of service.
Burkes worked tirelessly as an advocate for Veterans as chairman of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board. He was instrumental in the building of the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Newton. Burkes was also a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
He served 14 years in the Mississippi Legislature, four years in the House of Representatives and 10 years in the Senate. He is a former member of the faculty at Hinds Community College. In 1997, Burkes was appointed to the Federal Surface Transportation Board.
Burkes received the Mississippi College Order of the Golden Arrow in 2014. According to Mississippi College’s website, Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard said, “Senator Burkes has dedicated his life to God and service to his fellow citizens. He personifies the values that Mississippi College stands for.”
Burkes passed away peacefully May 4 at the Mississippi Veterans Home in Kosciusko.
We honor his service.
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Writer: Martin Wright
Graphic artist: Steve Ellmore