James Harold “Lefty” Burrough, 85, of Caraway, Arkansas, died peacefully June 28, 2019, at his home in Tempe, surrounded by his son, DJ Burrough, and others who loved him.
He was born in Caraway in 1933, the fourth of five children born to Joe and Annie Burrough. Alongside his siblings, Harold spent countless hours in the fields picking cotton and helping around the family farm. He graduated from Caraway Central High School in 1951, and soon after enlisted in the U.S. Army. He became a heavy equipment operator and in 1953 was sent to Korea with the 45th Division. He left the Army a year later and returned to his beloved Caraway to help his father farm.
Recognizing that farming was not his calling, Harold re-joined the military, this time the U.S. Air Force. In the Air Force, Harold flourished because of his ability to learn quickly, his tireless effort and infectious leadership. He became adept at electronics and radar tracking of missiles and satellites, spend more than a year at a radar site on an island in the China Straights.
Later, he taught electronics and was seconded to NASA for Apollo 11, which put a man on the moon for the first time. Harold flew in one of six converted KC-35 planes, in geosynchronous orbit, that carried a 7-foot radar dish and ensured that NASA and the astronauts would not lose communications. He was instrumental in setting up the first military radar dish in Australia. His military career would take him all over the US and the world, with postings in Florida, California, Mississippi, Colorado and New Hampshire, where, in 1962, he met and married Beverly Jean Pellitier. They would have two children together, Lisa Jo and Daniel James. After 20 years of service, he ended his military career in 1973.
Now a civilian, Harold moved his family to Arizona and soon became one of the top salesmen for Knapp and Volt, a hardware manufacturing company, which took him all over the Southwest. He later started a road repair company that grew to dozens of employees.
In the late 1990s, he retired to a remote part of Arizona on a 40-acre plot that was “off-grid,” which its own solar array, which Harold set up, and a well for water. He loved helping neighbors with projects and made friends with dozens on the hill.
He loved so much in life: country music, bowling, growing plants, softball, playing cards and just enjoying people. But what he loved most of all was his hometown and those he grew up with. For many years, he returned with his family to Caraway for the Fourth of July festivities and he created a website where people could share stories and photos of Caraway (www.carawayalumni.com). He helped organize the first reunion for his graduating class, held in 1986 on the 35th anniversary of their graduation, and helped pull subsequent reunions together. He also helped organize an all-class reunion, which saw more than 350 attend. He last attended the reunion in 2015.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Danny, Joe and William “Skeet” and sister Inez Hinton.
He is survived by his son, D.J. Burrough; daughter Lisa Jo Fitzgerald and former wife Beverly Burrough.
A graveside service with military honors will begin 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 19, at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road in Phoenix. Family and friends are warmly invited.
Owens Livingston Mortuary of Show Low handled arrangements.
For those who have special memories and would like to send private condolences or sign an online guest book, visit www.owenslivingstonmortuary.com.