Charles & Delores Burke, Providence, A

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1968 Beetle
1972 VW
1998 Mexican Beetle

On Friday, Charles and Delores Burke of Judsonia stand beside the two Volkswagen Beetles that they gave to each other as gifts. The cars have become a symbol of the couple’s enduring love for one another.

Couple gives each other a big gift of love in a small package

By Pat Hambrick

The Daily Citizen

She gave Charles his as a 40th anniversary gift. He bought Delores’ a few weeks later on Valentine’s Day, so Charles and Delores Burke of Providence each received their Volkswagen “bugs” on a romantic occasion.

Delores remembers exactly the way Charles reacted when the hole in his heart was finally filled.

“You should have seen his face. He looked like he had been slapped… he broke down and cried,” Delores said.

Charles has an antique car license for his; Delores’ license reads “toy bug.”

The Burkes married Dec. 20, 1964 and bought their first Volkswagen in 1965 when they were commuting to work in Little Rock. Although they chose to sell the car, Charles never ceased to covet his favored automobile, Delores said.

Delores’ aunt, Mabel Wools, granted his wish, buying him another one in 1995. Unfortunately, it was destroyed when it caught fire, a tragedy many Volkswagen owners have experienced. Charles didn’t speak about Volkswagens for a while, but eventually started talking again about getting another bug.

Delores came across a Volkswagen dealer while visiting friends in Longview, Texas in 2004. She called the dealer when she returned to Arkansas. Delores bought Charles the blue 1968 Volkswagen he drives today.

Buying the vehicle in Texas took a little espionage work on her part.

“I told Charles I had to go back to Texas and told him not to ask why,” she said. “I told him he’d be sorry if he didn’t let me go.”

Bringing the car back to Arkansas proved adventurous when the car broke-down in Little Rock.

When the car was repaired, they brought it home, covered it with streamers and hid it in their barn. She lured Charles into the dining room so that he couldn’t see the driveway while their son delivered the car, and then she told Charles to look outside.

“He was thrilled to death,” she said.

He loved his car so much that when he ran across a white VW that was for sale, he tried to convince her they should buy it for her. She said one was enough, but he bought it for her anyway as a Valentine’s Day gift last year.

The Burkes have known each other most of their lives and are both Judsonia High School graduates, though they didn’t date until after they graduated.

They had dated for about five years when Charles got out of the service in August 1964. They were married in Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on Dec. 20. Since it was close to Christmas, Delores used a red and white theme for the small wedding.

Her late mother, Marie Wools, made her wedding dress. She said Charles forgot to bring his shoes to the church and had to go back after them, and she realized she had only brought a short slip instead of the long one she intended to wear, but otherwise the wedding went smoothly.

Charles, Sr., works at Harding University and from 1971-1977 he was a volunteer fireman in Judsonia.

Delores, like her mother, is a beautician and had a beauty shop in Griffithville before her marriage. Later, she worked at her mother’s shop in Judsonia. The Burkes owned a grocery store in Providence from 1984-1989, and Delores spent her days there. She has also spent many years caring for ill, elderly relatives, including both her parents and his.

In December 1990 the Burkes moved in with Delores’ late aunt and uncle, Curt and Mabel Wools of Providence, in order to help care for Curt. He died the following year. They stayed with Mabel, added onto the house and cared for Mabel when she became ill.

Delores plays the piano and organ at Clearwater Missionary Baptist Church and first played in public at Providence Baptist Church when she was 12. She has written several gospel songs, four of which she has copywrited. She said her songs are played “quite a bit” on QWCK 99.9.

Charles, Jr., a first responder with NOWCO Fire Department, is the Burkes’ only son


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