ASHEVILLE - Theodore Thomas Burlew Jr. crossed into the cosmos on February 7, 2023 at the age of 94. He was born on January 10, 1929 in Asbury Park, NJ. He was the son of the late Theodore Thomas Burlew, and late Mary “Mae” Kelly Burlew.
Affectionately known as “Ted” he had a long-standing career with the government, serving 26 years in the US Air Force and retiring as a Master Sergeant. During his time in the Air Force, Ted had assignments at 12 different locations before settling in the Asheville, NC area. He continued his journey with civil service work in Asheville, at the National Climatic Data Center/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where he worked in Quality Control as a Meteorological Data Technician. He supported this role for another 33 years before he finally decided to retire in 2012 at the astounding age of 83. A true inspiration to many, he was considered a pure gem to all he encountered. Ted always had a pleasant smile and a warm remark for all.
A devoted family man, Ted enjoyed spending quality time with his daughter and granddaughter, both of whom he adored. His daughter thought the world of this beautiful man and would happily acknowledge having had a wonderful childhood with the most amazing father. Their close bond was apparent well into adulthood, and the time they shared will forever be celebrated. He also took pure delight in watching his granddaughter grow up, and he was so grateful he had the opportunity to witness her achievements. The love these girls had for Ted was unrivaled.
Ted met his wife of 52 years while stationed in South Korea. While the language barrier made communication slightly challenging at times, they adapted and persevered allowing their marriage to be one of dedication and adoration. The work ethic that they both displayed was admirable, but one could easily sense their codependency which was quite touching at times.
Ted loved the outdoors and took solace and wonder in nature which perhaps influenced his career choice of working in weather. Somewhat of a science and history buff, you would often find him deeply engaged in an episode on the History Channel or reading an article on celestial sightings in his Planetary Society Magazine. He was a vessel of knowledge and enjoyed having discussions that warranted deep thought or even a friendly debate to promote a variety of perspectives.
To know Ted, was to know kindness, determination, and respect. He always applied the highest sense of appreciation to those around him. His legacy of love and service will continue to be honored and celebrated through those whom he knew and loved. Carry on dear Theodore, your new voyage awaits you. You will forever be loved and in our hearts.
May the Force Be with you.
Ted is survived by his loving wife, Pong Pil Burlew; daughter, Jane Burlew; and granddaughter Antares Lance.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests your participation in a living tribute by planting a tree in Ted’s honor at www.onetreeplanted.org or www.nationalforests.org.
The family will receive friends from 12PM to 1:15PM on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 at West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave., Weaverville. US Air Force Military Honors will be rendered and burial will be at 2:00PM in the Western North Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, 962 Old US Hwy 70, Black Mountain, NC 28711.
A TRIBUTE FROM JANE BURLEW
My beloved father crossed into the cosmos on February 7, 2023. Many of you know how incredibly close I was to this most amazing human being. I don't believe I can fully express how much this man meant to me. A man of impeccable character, he was the most loving father, and his devotion to his family was unparalleled. I have so many beautiful memories with this man that I will forever hold in my heart.
He was my sidekick from the beginning, always diligently taking me to sporting events, and supporting me with enthusiasm and encouragement. He taught me how to execute my first back handspring, and I can remember how excited and proud he was as he gleefully witnessed all my gymnastics exhibitions, dance recitals, speed skating meets, volleyball and soccer matches. He would listen with esteem and exhilaration during our conversations about all my cycling adventures. He was my biggest fan, and the best cheerleader for me no matter how good or bad my performance was.
Anyone who had the pleasure of encountering my father could say with confidence that he was a polite gentleman, who always displayed kindness, warmth, and beamed positivity with his delightful attitude. You simply couldn't help but adore the man. His work ethic was most impressive. A career military man, spending 26 years in the US Air Force, and then continuing to put in another 33 years working for the National Climatic Data Center/NOAA for a grand total of 59 years of Federal service. My father finally decided to retire at the spirited age of 83.
His fascination with science and nature always reflected in his choice of leisure and fun. I can remember his enthusiasm when he took me to the Blue Ridge Parkway to catch a glimpse of Halley's Comet back in 1986. He found beauty and inspiration in the outdoors where a simple creek, tree, or bird would bring him peace. He would often boast about tumbling on the Jersey Shore in his youth, which I'm sure contributed to his love of the ocean as well.
There is a lot of history that takes place in a life span of 94 years, and one could easily become intrigued when my father would share detailed stories of each chapter in his long life. His narration was always entertaining and enlightening.
I have so much admiration, respect and love for my father, and this episode of my life has been the most challenging yet enriching experience for me. I am eternally grateful that I was able to be there for him, and I will do my best to heal by honoring and celebrating my father's life every day.
Papa Ted, I will cherish and hold you in my heart forever. I will look for you in the stars, speak to you in the woods, and listen for your words of wisdom in the waters. Thank you for being my hero, life mentor, friend, and dedicated father. You are and always will be my special treasure. I wish you well in your next journey, and hope all your new adventures bring you joy.
I love you always Daddy
May the Force be with you