James Jay Burley, 89, of East Jordan passed away on November 16th, 2018 at his Jordan River home dueto complications from colon cancer. Burley, or JB to his many friends, was born on August 15thin Dearborn, Michigan to parents James Madison Burley and Edith Irene (Davis) Burley. He was the youngest of four children, with sisters Betty (deceased), Dora (deceased), and Elinor who survives.
In 1940 he and his family moved to Suttons Bay where his father, taking time out from the plumbing trade, bought a farm that the family worked until 1943 when they once again moved, this time to Alanson. JB attended school at Alanson High School where he participated in several sports and later graduated as his class’s valedictorian in 1947.
Immediately following high school JB entered the U.S. Coast Guard where he served until his retirement in 1973 as a Lieutenant Commander. During his time in the Coast Guard he held numerous jobs while serving at locations around the world. His many assignments included Cape May, New Jersey, aboard a 255 foot cutter in the North Atlantic out of Boston, aboard the Destroyer Escort “Ramsden” during the Korean War, Newport News, Virginia, Anchorage, Dutch Harbor and Ketchikan Alaska, San Francisco, Chicago, and closer to home at both St. Ignace and Traverse City.
While in Boston in 1947, JB met and married his first wife, Dorothy and they had two daughters, Cathy and Jeanie. His first marriage ended in divorce but several years later in 1959, while serving in Traverse City, he married Ginny (Davis) Bender(deceased) and became father to step sons Joe (deceased), Jimmy, and Jerry (deceased).
Following his Coast Guard retirement JB and Ginny purchased and operated the then Sleders Tavern in Traverse City and later the Cherryland Restaurant which afterwards became the first Flapjack. Their Flapjack Restaurants subsequently expanded to locations in Gaylord, Petoskey, and Lansing.
Thanks to growing up as his father’s plumbing assistant and Coast Guard roles as warrant carpenter and in maintenance repair, JB was the consummate handyman. Always at the expense of his own ”to do” list JB was available to assist with anyone’s remodeling or repair project, and the only compensation he would ever accept was that of a 3 p.m. beer break. He was the most giving friend anyone could possibly ask for.
In addition to children mentioned above JB is survived by his grandson, Marc Bender, wife Stephanie Bender, his great granddaughter Baylee, grandchildren Joe, Melissa, Wendy, and Gretchen plus numerous other great grandchildren
A funeral service commemorating James Burley’s remarkable life will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity at 11 a.m. on December 1st, 2018. Memorial contributions can be made to the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Boyne City or McClaren Northern Michigan’s Patient Assistance fund.
Episcopal Church of the Nativity
209 E Main Street, Boyne City MI 49712
McClaren Northern Michigan’s Patient Assistance Fund
416 Connable Avenue, Petoskey MI 49770