|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
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
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’ 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
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
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
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