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Donald "Don" Burleson Jr. '67 December 16, 2021 4:42 PM updated: December 16, 2021 4:53 PM

Donald Carlton Burleson Jr.
December 7, 1944 - November 12, 2021

Donald Carlton Burleson, Jr., age 76 of Dallas, Texas and longtime resident of Irving, Texas passed away on Friday, November 12, 2021 at Faith Presbyterian Hospice and T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center.

Don was born on December 7, 1944 in Houston, Texas to Donald Carlton Burleson and Mary Sudie Alderson Burleson. Since he was born a “Junior”, his family always called him Carlton. That is, until his mother took him the lunch he forgot one elementary school day. When his mother asked that the sack lunch be taken to him, she was told that they had no student registered as “Carlton” Burleson. From that day forward, his friends, and classmates knew him as Don!

Don graduated from South Houston High School, part of the Pasadena Independent School District, Class of '63. He went to Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, Class of '67. During his senior year he was the White Band Drum Major, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Thomas C. Alderson, Jr., Class of '51, who was also a Drum Major. Don was also a proud nephew of another A&M graduate, Charles S. Williams, Class of '41. Don majored in Architecture and loved A&M so much that he turned a five-year study into six years!

On August 10, 1968 Don married his high school sweetheart, Charlyn Bilbray. They were married for 53 years and had two much loved daughters.

Don and his new bride moved to the Dallas, Texas area in 1969. After practicing architecture for years at various architecture firms, designing a number of different types of buildings in Dallas and other areas, he opened his own firm, Burleson Associates Architects. He eventually chose to concentrate on educational (K-12) facilities. He designed and built schools from the Rio Grande Valley to the Panhandle, all over East Texas, into the Big Bend area, and in the Metroplex as well.

Don was a member of the American Institutes of Architects, and was President of the AIA for Educational Facilities, among other professional associations.

Don, along with Charlyn and their daughters, were members over the years of First Presbyterian Church, St. Stephens Presbyterian Church, and Plymouth Park Methodist Church, all in Irving, Texas.

Don was a wonderful father to both his daughters. Both daughters were in the YMCA Indian Princess program with their dad. In the program the daughters picked out their own Indian Princess names, as well and their dad’s names. That’s when Don began to be known as “Fish” or “Big Fish”. For some reason, “Little Cottontail” was great! However, “Big Bunny”, not so much! He built a great relationship with his girls on a one-on-one basis. He enjoyed campouts, cake decorating contest, kite flying, and meetings with other dads and daughters.

Don attended dance recitals, band parent meetings, did cookouts for his girls at fundraising activities and was an attentive and loving father to them. He loved to make them “Pac-Man” eggs for Saturday morning breakfasts – and they loved that he did! One activity they might have vetoed at the time was to wake them in the mornings singing “Reveille” as loud and as long as it took to get them up!

Don and Charlyn travelled in the United States and abroad and loved just being together, reading, going to concerts, museums, movies, Supper Club, and camping with our daughters. He owned numerous sailboats beginning with a Sunfish and ending with an air-conditioned Catalina 322 with a queen size bed, refrigerator, stove and oven. It was our lake house on the water!

Don and Charlyn stayed in touch with his Aggie Band buddies and their “gals” and have attended and hosted many gatherings – sometimes with over 40 people attending for a weekend of camaraderie. And then there have been years and years of season tickets to Aggie football games and watching the Aggie Band at uncountable halftimes!

Don was preceded in death by both his parents; grandparents, Martin Riley Burleson and Bertha Maybelle (Bercie) George Burleson; Thomas Crittendon Alderson and Sudie Armstrong Alderson.

Don is survived by his wife, Charlyn Bilbray Burleson; daughter April Burleson Nafstad '96 and husband, Marius Nafstad; grandchildren, Marcus Riley Nafstad, Eric Alexander Nafstad, and Mia Elizabeth Nafstad; daughter Megan Burleson; sisters, Cathy Burleson Unger, and Cindy Burleson Marker and husband, Gary Marker; sisters-in law, Gayle Bilbray Hunt and husband Bill Hunt; Becky Bilbray Hauptman and husband Greg Hauptman. Don is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.

A very special and grateful thank you to all the caregivers over the last 5 plus months who took such excellent and compassionate care of Don and Charlyn, too. You know who you are and the family is grateful for the care, both at home and at the Faith Presbyterian Hospice and T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center.

Services for Don will be at Restland Funeral Home, Wildwood Chapel, 13005 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75243 in the Wildwood Chapel on Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 2 pm. There will be no graveside service or internment at this time. Masks are required.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a contribution to one of the following charities:
American Diabetes Association 800-342-2383
Alzheimer's Association 800-272-3900
Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research 866-789-1000

Funeral arrangements for Donald Carlton Burleson have been faithfully entrusted to Restland Funeral Home and Cemetery, which is located at 13005 Greenville Ave., at the intersection of Restland Road, Dallas, Texas 75243, and can be reached at 972-238-7111.



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