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Roll Call Tribute

Charles Burley '62 November 22, 2023 1:27 PM updated: November 22, 2023 1:35 PM

Charles Erwin Burley 

August 10, 1940 - November 6, 2023 

Charles Erwin Burley, 83, of Bryan, departed this earthly life on November 6, 2023 surrounded by loved ones. Family and friends are invited to the Memorial Mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Bryan, Texas on Friday, November 17, 2023 at 2:00PM.

Charles was born in Bryan, Texas on August 10, 1940 to Robert Lee and Mildred (Smith) Burley, and grew up on the corner of Cavitt and Elm then considered the outskirts of town where he was free to ride his horse Buddy, and roam the woods. Charles was also a great lover of dogs and had many four-legged friends along the way. In his teens, his parents bought one of the first lots at Camp Creek Lake where they built a cabin, and over the years, Charles became a proficient water skier.

Charles graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan in 1958 where he was Class President his senior year. He went on to study at Texas A&M University for two years as a member of the Corps of Cadets. After two years, he left college to work at the family-owned Bryan-College Station Traction Company, which provided the local area with its first public transportation with a bus line and cabs.

Charles met his future wife, Jo Louise Piraino, in Bryan. After getting married in 1963, Charles took over the lease on the Gulf Service Station on Jersey Street (now George Bush Drive) in College Station and operated the business for seven years before moving to Houston. Charles, Jo, and son Rick lived for many years in the Fleetwood neighborhood of West Houston. After working in sales for Vaughan & Sons selling tires and batteries to Gulf dealers, he took over the lease of the Gulf Service Station on Memorial Drive and Nottingham Oaks Trail in Houston in 1975.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, Charles built a large, loyal following of customers at the Gulf station. Houstonians trusted their vehicles to Charles, because he treated customers right, and demonstrated the Aggie core values of excellence, integrity, and selfless service. When not working, he was perfecting his tennis backhand at the Fleetwood Racquet Club.

In 1990, Charles and family moved back to the Brazos Valley where he purchased and operated Cargo Bay on Wellborn Road in College Station. Cargo Bay was known and loved by Aggie students and the community for its convenient drive-through beverage operation, especially frozen Igloos.

Charles had a deep love for Texas A&M, and followed all sports, particularly football. He loved to post the Aggie football scores on his marquee at the Gulf station. He got to know many of the football players and coaches over the years. Despite the ups and downs of Aggie football, he always remained loyal to his team, and never missed a game on Saturday. He especially enjoyed attending games at Kyle field with his son Rick, and daughter-in-law Kim.

Charles was a lifetime member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. While volunteering for many years, he served as a vice chairman of the Auction & Receptions committee, and as a member of the Parade Committee. Charles was also active in the Katy Taylor High School FFA Booster Club as well as the Katy A&M Club.

Charles will be greatly missed by many. He had an enormous love for life and was blessed with a charismatic personality that allowed him to make loyal friends and build lifelong relationships easily. He truly never met a stranger. His legacy will forever live on in the form of loving memories filled with smiles, laughter, and great stories. He was one of a kind, and always lived by his motto, “everything will work out in the end.”

Charles is preceded in death by his beloved parents Robert Lee Burley, Jr. and Mildred “Meme” (Smith) Burley; and brother Robert Lee Burley, III.

Survivors include his son Rick Charles Burley and wife Kim of Missouri City; former wife and devoted friend of 62 years Jo Louise (Piraino) Burley of Bryan; sister-in-law Belle Burley of Bryan; niece Leslie (Burley) Garrett and husband Ron of Dickinson; niece Lynlie (Burley) Keblinger and partner Skip Smith of Bryan; nephew Robert Burley and wife Cissie of Moultrie, Georgia; nephew Lance Pavlas and wife Beth of The Woodlands; niece Marissa Combs and husband Chris of Cypress; nephew Steven Piraino of Houston; nephew James Piraino and wife Kristen of Conway, Arkansas; nephew Chris Cowart of Katy; nephew Russell Cowart and wife Lisa of Willis; niece Lauren Wallace of Dallas; and nephew Barrett Reeves of New York, New York.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Anthony Catholic Church or Hospice Brazos Valley.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Burley family.


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