Aaron Burke was born November 26,
1964, to Richard and Emily Burke of
Oakwood. He attended Oakwood Schools
and graduated from Oakwood High School in
On September 20, 1986, he married
Melinda and had a son, Nathan, born
February 17, 1991.
Melinda ia a 1982 graduate of Covington
High School, Indiana, and DACC in 1984.
Aaron works at Tommy House Tire
Company in Champaign and Melinda works
in Oakwood Unit District # 76 Schools.
The family attends Faith Baptist
Church in St. Joseph, Illinois. Previously
living at 304 Timber ridge Drive in Oakwood,
they now live at 17580 N 450 East Road, in
Fithian. They are in the process of building
a home in Muncie, Illinois.
Melinda & Aaron Burke
Richard Edgar Burke was born on a farm
just outside of Oakwood on February 20, 1926.
His parents were Robert and Minnie Burke. He
had five brothers and two sisters. He attended a
small country school which burned recently. He
was in the Army, stationed in the Philippines in
He worked many years for Floyd Lee, Inc.
doing eveiything from running heavy machinery
to working in the coal mine.
Emily Chounard Burke was bom in Drayton,
North Dakota on August 27, 1934. She was
raised in the country and attended a one-room
country school. Her family moved around a lot
due to her father’s work. Her parents were
William and Mary Bessette Chounard. She has
four sisters and four brothers. She came to
Illinois in 1952, before Thanksgiving Day. It
was here that she met Richard and they were
married July 24, 1954.
Richard and Emily’s first residence was a
tiny house trailer in his dad’s yard. They then
moved to Muncie and later to Newtown. While
they were living in Newtown, Richard came
home one day and said they were moving to
Oakwood (in the same house they live in now).
This made Emily very mad because the house”
wasn’t fit to live in.” Richard fixed it up and they moved in. They did major reconstruction of the
homestead in 1993 and 1994. The house was reconstructed from the crawl space to the attic and
today is a beautiful home!
Emily remembers when she first came to Oakwood in 1952 there was an outside movie once a
week on Main Street. She also remembers sitting and watching the telephone operator plug and
unplug many colored wires in holes. She’s reminded of this when she watches “Little House on the
Prairie.” She said the operator ran the business either out of her home or she had a little building
for it. She also recalls the little old grocery store. The man who ran it had everything ! She and
Richard used to go to “Mom and Pop Grovers Gas Station” and get something to eat. They went
there every night just to have something to do. It was located where the Ice Cream & Video Place is
across Rte. 150 now. They went to the Blue Room Cafe after they stopped going to Mom & Pops.
All their boys had their haircuts at Vern Swisher’s Barber Shop. It’s still standing on the comer of
Scott Street and South Main Street.
Emily and Richard have six children. They are Roy, Mary, Jim, Virgil, Sally and Aaron. Roy
was bom in December, 1954. He attended Oakwood Grade School and Highs and married Tamie
Carwell in 1974. They were later divorced. From this marriage came two daughters, Heather and
Sarah. He then married Barbara Golden in 1984. He has two step-daughters from this marriage,
Kristy and Shay Winn. They now reside in Branson, Missouri. Roy drives a “state-of-the-art” semi
and Barb works for “Boxcar Willie” in Branson.
Maiy was born in July, 1956. She attended kindergarten at the Methodist Church in Oakwood
and attended Oakwood Grade and High Schools. She graduated from Danville Area Community
College in 1986 and is currently enrolled at Eastern Illinois University working toward a degree in
Elementary Education. She works full-time for the Danville Polyclinic in Danville. She married
Robert (Bob) Vandenberg in 1975. Bob works for the State at Kickapoo State Park. They have three
children: Kris, Cory and Elizabeth (who are twins). They now reside in Muncie, Illinois.
Starting Top Left: Jim, Roy, Sally, Virgil,
Aaron, Mary, Emily & Richard Burke. 1993.
Jim was bom October, 1958. He attended Kindergarten at the Methodist Church in Oakwood
and attended Oakwood Grade and High Schools. He married Sandi Venis in 1977. They have three
children: Angela (Angie), Beth and
Matt. Jim works at Lauhoff Grain
Company and Sandi works for Blue
Cross Blue Shield in Danville. They
now reside in Catlin, Illinois.
Virgil was born July, 1961. He
went to HeadStart in Danville and
attended kindergarten at the
Methodist Church in Oakwood and
Oakwood Grade and High Schools.
He married Debra Bott in 1982 and
they have two children: Andy and
Amie. Virgil works at Tommy
House Tire in Champaign and
Debbie is a homemaker. They now
reside in Oakwood, Illinois.
Sally was born in February,
She went to kindergarten
when it was housed in the Grade
School building and also attended
Oakwood Grade and High Schools.
She married Michael Shoppa in
She has a step-son Kristian,
who is stationed in Japan with the
Marines. She has a step-daughter
and step-grand-daughter in
Washington. Sally works for a
magazine factory and Mike drives a
semi. They now reside in Walcott,
Aaron was born November,
He went to kindergarten when
it was housed in the Grade School building and
I attended Oakwood Grade and High Schools. He
^ married Melinda Boiler in 1986. They had a
| daughter, Rachal, who was stillborn and now have a
I son, Nathan. Aaron works for Tommy House Tire in
I Champaign and Melinda drives a school bus for
M District #76 (Oakwood). They are currently building
a new home just west of Muncie (in the country)
The following is a dialogue as recorded from
Thomas Coit & Jennie (Hart) Burke
My mother’s name was Mary Bessette Chounard.
• When my dad passed away in 1970, Richard and I
| moved from Bowesmont, North Dakota to Rantoul,
; Illinois. In 1987, we moved her to Oakwood. She
lived in the B & W Apartments on the corner of
Collett and Harrison Street. She was born on
October 28, 1900. She banked at the Oakwood
Savings and Loan. She really liked this little town.
She Virgil, Debbie, Andy – 7, Amie – 2, Burke. and I walked to the store everyday. Oh, that
reminds me…I use to walk to the store and post office every day (sometimes more than once a day).
I had a nice trail going across the tracks. One day after I had quit walking to the store,someone
asked me if I had quit walking to the store. I asked them how they knew. They said my path was
grown over with grass. I laughed. My mother passed away on June 24,1988. We buried her next to
my dad in Oakwood, North Dakota (how ironic!).
At one time, my brother Ed and his family lived in Oakwood. They lived just outside Oakwood
east) on Route 150. They had five boys: Joe, Billy, Stanley, Steve and Fred. All their kids went to
Oakwood schools also. Ed’s wife name was Joy. Joy and Fred have since passed away. Ed now
lives in Hallock, Minnesota. Billy, his wife Kathy, and their two daughters live in Mahomet.
I had a friend who lived down the alley from us for thirty-eight years. Her name was Jeanie
Carson. Her children and ours grew up, played together and went to school together. Her
husband’s name was Eugene (Gene). He has since passed away. After Gene died she grew quiet.
Soon she met a man (Gene Berry) and they were married a couple of years ago. She has now moved
to Arizona. I still hear from her and see her a couple times a year. I sure do miss her because we
use to visit with one another and drink coffee together.
Another good friends are Sandy and Darrell Carpenter. Darrell grew up in Oakwood. They lived
in Oakwood for a time then moved to Danville. She is my best friend and we visit each other lots.
They have one son, Darrell. He is married to Melanie.
Thomas Coit Burke and Jennie (Hart) Burke were married in 1925. They had four children:
Esther (Burke) Wallace, Donna (Burke) Bracewell, James “Bud” Burke, and Thomas E. Burke.
Tom worked in the Missionfield Coal Company until he became a Physical Therapist at the
Danville Veteran’s Hospital. He was a special friend to many and loved by all who knew him. He
passed away in 1971.
Jennie was a teacher in the area for over 35 years. Her career began in 1922 at Missionfield
Grade School. She also taught that the following grade schools: Lake Shore, Independent, Vance
Lane, Diamond, Hillery, Lynch, and Oakwood.
Jennie was a talented musician and played the organ, piano and saxaphone. She taught piano
and saxaphone. She played for numerous churches and schools throughout the area and was
organist at the Evangelical Methodist Church in Oakwood until her death in November of 1984.
Virgil Alan Burke married Debra Lynn Bott March 27, 1982 and they presently live at 427
Seymour Street in Oakwood. Virgil was born July 16, 1961 to Richard and Emily Burke of 103
Oakwood Street, the fourth of six children. Debbie, bom December 9, 1961 is the daughter of Larry
and Nancy Bott of rural Oakwood who moved here from Homer, Illinois, in 1965. She is the oldest
of two children.
Virgil and Debbie attended Oakwood Grade School and Oakwood High School. Their children
are; Andrew Tyler, born March 4, 1986, and Amie Lynn, born November 16, 1990. Andy attends
Oakwood Grade School and Amie goes to The Crow’s Nest Preschool.