Former Smithville Mayor and alderman Cecil Ray Burger passed away Wednesday night at NHC Healthcare Center. He was 89 years old.
Mr. Burger served the City of Smithville for more than forty five years, including sixteen years as mayor and six years as alderman
In twenty two years, Mr. Burger never lost an election, having first been elected mayor in 1990. He served eight terms, sixteen years in that office until 2006 when he chose instead to run for alderman. He ended his long career with the city on June 30 last year when his third term as alderman came to an end. Because of his health, Mr. Burger had chosen not to seek re-election to a fourth term.
Mr. Burger began his career with the city in 1966 as secretary-treasurer, which also meant overseeing the city's public works operation and city employees. He served as city judge for the first couple of years as well. Burger retired from the secretary-treasurer position in 1989 but came out of retirement fifteen months later after being elected mayor in 1990.
During his time with the city as an employee and alderman Burger served under or with ten mayors starting with Othel Smith, John Bill Evins, Charles Gentry, Edward Frazier, Gary (Gus) Johnson, Hilton Conger, Waniford Cantrell, Dewey Love, Bruce Medley, and Taft Hendrixson.
The fifty two aldermen he served under or with as a city employee, mayor, and alderman from 1966 through 2012 include Jim O. Amonett, W.H. Smith, Sr., Eugene Webb, Freddy Colvert, Hobert Hendrixson, John Bill Evins, Bass Estes, Floyd Brown, Sr., Edward Frazier, Robert Alexander, Carter Braswell, Paschal Cantrell, Donnie Lewis, Alfred Parker, T.C. Atnip, Ray Johnson, Bob Smithson, Gary (Gus) Johnson, Tom Keith, Hilton Conger, Dr. Kenneth Twilla, Bill Maffett, Marsha Darah, Cordell Walker, Charles Trapp, Paul Hendrixson, Dr. Melvin Blevins, Elmus Johnson, David Redmon, Jim Eddins, Dewey Love, Bruce Medley, Elzie McBride, Charles Burchfield, Larry Wright, Jack Cantrell, Jerry Taylor, W.J. (Dub) White, Charles Olson, Bert Driver, Steve White, Paul Young, Brad Mullinax, Mark Loring, Jackie Rigsby, Aaron Meeks, Willie Thomas, Tonya Sullivan, Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Shawn Jacobs, Danny Washer, and Gayla Hendrix.
In an interview with WJLE last year, Mr. Burger said he appreciated all the support he had received during his career with the city. "The people have been good to me and I appreciate it very much. They supported me well," said Burger.
"We (city) grew a right smart while I was mayor and we tried to serve the whole city. I don't know of anything special (we did) only trying to do our work with everybody. I had a lot of good help. I appreciate my friends who have helped me out all these years. They helped me when I was mayor. I have plenty of friends. I've tried to treat them like I wanted to be treated," said Burger.
Mr. Burger was a member of the Smithville First United Methodist Church and a construction worker.
The funeral will be Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Dr. John Carpenter will officiate. Entombment will be at DeKalb Memorial Gardens Mausoleum. Visitation will be Friday from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until the service at 3:00 p.m.
He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Willie Sowells Burger and his wife, Wilma Jo Burger.
Survivors include four children, David and wife Kyoko Burger of Japan, Gereda Burger of Massachusetts, Pamela and husband Danny Poss of Smithville, and Anthony and wife Tammie Burger of Smithville.
Five grandchildren, Nancy Burger, Simon and wife, Emi Burger, Erica Burger, Nicole Burger, and Zach Poss. A great grandson, Braxton. A sister, Sudie Vickers of Liberty. A sister-in-law, Mildred and husband Howard Harrell of Murfreesboro.
DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements. The family asks that donations be made to the Smithville First United Methodist Church, in lieu of flowers.