Vernon Burrell, 78, or Oakdale died Thursday, Feb. 3 after a long struggle with illness.
He lived in Oakdale for approximately 20 years.
During his career, he worked for Fred Harvey Enterprise managing trading posts, hotels and cafes at the Grand Canyon and Cameron, Arizona. He worked for over 50 years in construction and retired as a general contractor. He supervised the construction of the new villages, schools and village utilities for Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay and Barrow, Alaska. Under that contract he hired and trained Alaska natives to support the local economy and job market. He was known to the Indians as Bo-Ho- Lingee' (Great White Leader).
He also was a champion team roper in Arizona in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Burrell lived life to the fullest and took pleasure in giving to others. He taught this to all who knew him through the way he lived life. He showed every member of his family that he was proud of them with his gentle smile, a twinkle in his eyes and a king-size hug.
He loved all kinds of music and dancing, with a special love of square dancing. He took and gave much joy in simple pleasures, such as handing out the Christmas gifts each year. He was the ultimate cowboy and those who love him will always remember his enjoyment in just shining his cowboy boots.
He is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Josephine; children, Rebecca (John) Staub of Scottsdale, AZ, John Wilson of Oakdale, Mark Wilson of Knights Ferry, Duane (Lynn) Thompson of Ceres, Maria Burrell (Justin Sutton) of Oakdale; son-in-law, Bob Nelson; sister, Helen Dixon of Casa Grande, AZ; brother-in-law, Jimmy (Sally) Herd of Bergenfield, N.J.; ex-wife, Sally Burrell of Camp Verde, AZ; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, extended family and close friends.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Mary Nelson; parents, Elmer and Maude Burrell; and siblings, Ray, Bill, Cecil, Bobbie Burrell, Mildred Zimmerman and Clara McCoy.
Per his request, there will be no funeral service but he will be honored with a celebration of life gathering. Family and friends will be informed of the details of this event through Facebook and the family’s telephone tree, once it is scheduled.
Turlock Funeral Home, 425 N. Soderquist Road, Turlock in charge of arrangements.