A Celebration of Life for Judge Lynn Burris it is pending. Lynn’s family will determine a new date in the near future.
Lynn Burris, the son of Paul and Myrtle (Pierce) Burris, was born January 5, 1937 in Muskogee, Oklahoma and departed this life on March 12, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 83 years, 2 months and 7 days.
Lynn loved sports, but he especially loved football. And it was his talent and skill in football that allowed him to receive a scholarship and led to a college degree. He played on the 1955 State Championship team at Muskogee High school, then went on to play on the 1956 University of Oklahoma National Championship team and the 1958 Northeastern State University team which also won a National Championship. He received numerous football awards and was inducted into the Muskogee Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the NSU Athletic Hall of Fame. He was one of a small handful of individuals that held National Championship rings at two different universities. It was during his time at NSU that he met the love of his life, Paula (Tarkington) Burris. He also developed life-long friendships and was a proud member of the ‘Nifty Fifties’. This group was a tremendous support during his final weeks of life and continually visited him and brought him much laughter and joy. Their character, loyalty and devotion should be an inspiration to all.
Lynn married his college sweetheart on August 31, 1962. He and Paula then embarked on a journey that took them to Independence, Missouri where he coached football and track as well as teaching high school history. It was during this time that Lynn began to contemplate continuing his education at OU Law school. He completed his JD in 1968. He served as assistant district attorney in both Sequoyah and Cherokee Counties as well as a private practice from 1968 to 1973. He held the position of associate district judge from 1973 to 1995. And he was first appointed to the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal in 1983 and served until 1984. Lynn was appointed to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and was a justice from January 1, 2015 until his passing.
As much as he enjoyed his professional career, Lynn would always say his greatest joys were his two daughters, Amber and Melanie. Lynn loved his family and his life revolved around them. He faithfully attended every one of his daughters’ and granddaughters’ events. He was their biggest cheerleader, no matter the sport or activity. He was a #girldad before it was ever popular. He instilled a love of Tahlequah in both of his daughters through outings and experiences that included Sunday drives, picnics, watching parades and float trips.
As a child, Lynn’s family took short trips to the Illinois River. Those camping trips turned into a lifelong love of the river and nature. It was these early trips that led to his tremendous love of traveling. Lynn traveled extensively with his wife and family throughout the US, Canada and Australia. He and Paula loved seeing the world and traveled to Egypt, Russia and throughout Europe. As much as Lynn loved traveling, he loved being with his family the most, especially as he showed them the world. He understood the saying, ‘the family that plays together, stays together’ and lived it daily. Because of this vision, Lynn purchased a place at Lake Tenkiller where he enjoyed spending time with his family throughout the past several decades. His lakehouse was one of his favorite places on earth.
As proud as Lynn was of his time at OU, he always felt a debt of gratitude to NSU and all that it gave him. He returned that gratitude by supporting NSU throughout his life. He and Paula were awarded the 2012 NSU Centurions for their tireless support.
Lynn understood the importance of hardwork and self-discipline. He believed we should all be the captain of our own ship. He loved history, math, learning and reading. His favorite book of all was the Bible and he read it daily. He was a shining example of God’s love.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his siblings Martha Reed, Buddy Burris, Pauline Stavely, Don Burris, Vera Newton, Kurt Burris, Robert Burris, and Patsy Bellinger.
He is survived by a loving family which includes his wife Paula Ann Burris of the home; his daughters Amber George and husband Buck of Tahlequah and Melanie Fields and husband Lonny of Tulsa; his twin brother Lyle Burris of Muskogee; his sister Robbie Nell and husband Charles Norman of Fallen, NV; his four granddaughters, Nikki Downs (Collin), Allison George, Milanne and Landrie Fields and one great grandchild, Jaxon Downs. He is also survived by many beloved nieces, nephews, close family friends and other relatives.
As much as we grieve this tremendous loss, we are comforted by the knowledge that our precious Dad is now rejoicing in heaven and seeing so many of his beloved family members. Lynn touched many lives and his legacy will live on through all those he inspired. “Well done my good and faithful servant” is what our sweet Dad heard on the evening of March 12th.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in his honor to Cherokee Nation Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-931-2031) or to the NSU Foundation.