Max Burleson Cronin

January 13, 1989 – January 14, 2016

There are two obituaries for Max. Be sure to read them both.

On the evening of January 14, 2016, Max Cronin Burleson, passed away. He succumbed to two quiet and insidious diseases: depression and PTSD. He was only 27. He is survived by his mother Nancy, his father John, his step-mother Mae, his siblings Maxine, Samantha, Kieron, William, and Alison, his niece Eileen, and many other family members and friends who miss him dearly. Max was a veteran who had served in the US Army for three years. 

His funeral will be held on Saturday, January 23 at 2pm at Vance Baptist Church in Vance, Texas, and he will be laid to rest in the Vance Cemetery. A memorial service will also be held at a later date in San Antonio.

Max will always be remembered for his tender heart and ability to make others smile. When Max was 7, he gave the shirt off his back to his car-sick cousin, and brightened the sour mood by proudly flexing his string bean arms for all to see. At 10, he invented a game of counting Christmas lights and always let his sister Maxine win, even though he knew she was cheating. When his niece was born, he showered her in gifts out of immense pride. Max not only acted as a protective big brother towards Maxine, but also towards his cousins and younger siblings – that was just who he was. 

Now, finally, Max is at rest. Please hold him close, as his family does, in your mind and spirit. Remember the meaning of this tragedy and join in helping others who are suffering. Encourage those who struggle with depression and PTSD to seek treatment. Be a consistent source of encouragement along the dark and often lonely road of recovery. Something positive must come from Max’s death, and that must be preventing others from suffering as he did. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Max’s honor to http://www.HeelTheHeroes.org, a non-profit foundation aimed at providing service dogs and counseling to veterans suffering from PTSD. 

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This isn’t an obituary, but the words of a son at the father of a friend of a friend’s funeral.

I’m Timothy Burton, Chuck Burton’s son. I’m one of 5 boys and 3 girls who were blessed enough to call Chuck Burton our father.

If I were to sum up my father’s life, I’d say it was about building and teaching and including others in his journey.  Last year on the celebration of his 90th birthday, he said this about his life: “I’ve worked hard and stayed the course. My life has been about quality and all of you here today have contributed to making a better me.”

Let me share of few of our memories of the lasting impact he had on us:

My father was positive throughout his life. As an officer on a ship in the South Pacific during WWII, he had seen the worst. He survived two typhoons and witnessed the aftermath of Hiroshima – but he never let those experiences keep him down. Instead, he would say to us: “You live in a free country, you have a roof over your head, food on the table and parents who love you. Now go out and do something with your life.“

My father was self-made and self-reliant. From the way he tackled every home project, took care of our cars, did our taxes, Chuck engaged in the world as a man who would be its master.

My father helped us – and many of his clients – make tough decisions. With his trusty yellow pad, he was famous for splitting the page in two and writing down the pros and cons of every situation.  

My father was a well-respected business man who was known for being tough but fair. He built a business empire from nothing. At his own wedding, a chance encounter led to the beginning of his career in insurance. He insured the City of Houston and Marriott Hotels and over the years built a prosperous career that afforded us a very comfortable life.  He was known as “Chuck Burton, Your Friendly Insurance Man” to many people who knew him.

My father always said that people who lived their lives in black and white were a whole lot more miserable than those who learned to live in grey. Give a little, get a little.  Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. A true believer in karma and balance. But he was also human and when someone hurt us and eventually got their due, he was right there rooting for us.

He was always fair and that’s not easy with 8 kids. Whether it was the rotating list of who got the front seat of the car, who went on the most recent “alone time” trip with him and Mom, he knew how to parse out favors in challenging situations. He was a real diplomat.

My father taught us how to be responsible and frugal and never to put our own families in jeopardy. He was our personal financial advisor. After he retired, he had business cards printed up that read “Chuck Burton – Banker and Diplomat.”

My father had a quiet humility about him that served our family well through the years. He really was a very kind man with a gentle soul. Everyone one of us collapsed into my father’s arms at some point in our lives because he knew how to comfort, without any agenda, when we hit bumps in life.

But my father was a very funny man and he always chose humor first. He loved telling jokes and for us there wasn’t anything more precious than the anticipation of the punch line- which he dragged out until we were hurting.  He wasn’t above slapstick humor either- like the time he paraded around the house wearing Mom’s wig during her cancer treatment.

My father loved my mother unwaveringly and that wasn’t always easy. He stuck with her through four bouts of cancer and although age and illness had ravaged her he never wanted to be anywhere except by her side.  He hid love notes in her luggage when she was away and wrote countless poems professing his love and admiration for her. He called Mom his partner and he meant it.

They had a genuine love and respect for each other that was palpable. Above all, my father always reminded us that he was nothing without his wife and that it was Mary Esther that had molded him into the man he was.

My father loved the good things in life like golf, tennis, fishing, fast cars, the outdoors, gardening and building stuff. He liked Neil Diamond blaring on the radio, dancing in the living room scantily clad. He liked his bourbon strong. He loved poetry and he wrote each of us poems marking the transitions in our lives. He cherished breakfast out with Laurie, building and fixing things with me, replanting the bamboo with Tom, fishing on the lake with Chris, crackers and milk at midnight in the kitchen with Rosie, watching tennis with Theresa, working professionally alongside Clifford and sitting on the swing with Doug and watching the birds.

Above all, my father loved being a Dad. He didn’t know his own father, who died when he was 2 years old. But his grandfather took him and his sister in and I think he was greatly influenced by that kindness. When we were kids he hid candy on the rim of his fedora hat, drove us to the pool on a tractor and cooked us steak and eggs for breakfast before he left on a work trip. He taught us how to shake hands firmly and look people in the eye, apply for jobs, ride a bike, swim, drive, save money, pour a good cocktail and be good siblings. He nurtured each of us as we built our own families. Above all, my father always told us “I will love you no matter what.” Based on the number of cars we wrecked, fires we started and other youthful indiscretions, loving us wasn’t always easy but we all believed it, every word, always.

I think Dad hit all the high marks in life – husband, son, brother, father, grandfather, great grandfather, business leader and colleague, church leader, friend and confidant. If he were here he’d say “I’ve lived a life I’ve been happy to share – I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Dad, we are all here with your sister Betty, we are all fine, we have money in our pockets, our headlights are clean and we know the way, thanks to you.

Billy Joe Williams
1930 – 1953
Sergeant Billy Joe Williams was born on October 4, 1930 in Madison County, Texas to Joe and Edith (Akins) Williams. After his mother died, he and his four older brothers were placed in the Methodist Orphanage in Waco, Texas.

Sergeant Billy Williams joined the U.S. Army at a young age. His life was cut short while he was serving his country during the Korean War. Sgt. Williams was a member of the 2nd Reconnaissance Company (Recon. Co.), 2nd Infantry Division (Inf. Div.). Sgt. Williams was reportedly captured on February 14, 1951 during a battle between UNC and CPVF in the vicinity of Chum-ni, Republic of Korea (R.O.K.), and marched north to Suan Prisoner of War (POW) Camp Complex. On September 6, 1953, a POW returnee reported during an interview that Sgt. Williams died from dysentery while being held in the Suan Bean POW Camp. The Department of the Army declared Sgt. Williams’s remains non-recoverable on September 8, 1953. The last known family member to have had contact with Sgt. Williams was one of his brothers, also serving in Korea, who’s company had coincidentally passed by Sgt. Williams and his company, while they were both on separate military exercises. The family of Sgt. Williams was notified of the news and were finally able to put closure on the years long mystery as to what had really happened to him after he was captured. 

On December 22, 1993, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) unilaterally turned over 34 boxes containing remains thought to be those of U.S. Servicemen. The remains were reportedly recovered from an area with the POW Camp known as the Suan Bean POW Camp. A maternal aunt, Esther Akins Bolton and her son, Douglas Bolton of Decatur, Texas were contacted as remaining, surviving family members to provide DNA to confirm that Sgt. Billy Williams’s remains were part of the remains recovered in 1993. A positive result confirmed that Sgt. Williams was, indeed, part of the group of remains recovered in 1993. His remains will be returned to Madison County where he will be laid to rest on May 17, 2016 at 2:00 P.M. in the Rock Prairie Cemetery, west of Madisonville, Texas. A Chaplain from the U.S. Army will officiate the service, and a full military honor guard will present funeral honors. A register book will be provided for the general public from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on May 12th, 13th and 16th at the Madisonville Funeral Home. 

Sgt. Williams was preceded in death by both of his parents; grandparents, Alford & Oad Akins and four older brothers, A.J., Alton, Leroy and Murl Wiliams. He is survived by one sister-in-law, Estelle Williams of Rosenburg along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Madisonville Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements. Please sign the online memorial guestbook at http://www.madisonville funeralhome.com.