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John Eli Burkholder


John passed from this life on July 13, 2022 at Brookhaven Assisted Living after a short illness. He was just two months shy of his 100th birthday. He was born in Sanford, NC, on September 10, 1922, to Blennie Brewer and Frank William Burkholder, the eldest of three brothers.
Upon graduation from high school in 1940 he worked as a telegraph operator and then joined the newly formed Army Air Force (previously the Army Air Corp). As a Communications Specialist, he flew “the Hump” between India and China to transport equipment and supplies to the Chinese in their battle with the Japanese. After World War II, he worked in Japan with the Civil Service for many years and attended Sophia University in Tokyo.
He married Masako “Helen” Burkholder on May 31, 1955 at the United States Embassy in Tokyo. “JE” and “Helen” eventually moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, living there for over twenty years, and then upon retirement, settled in Sun City West, AZ in 1992.
John is predeceased by his wife, Helen and middle brother, Frank Brewer Burkholder. He is survived by his youngest brother, William R. Burkholder; nephew, Scott Burkholder; and nieces, Anne Daniel (Steve), Liz Dantone, and Susan Burkholder (Tandy Brown); one great-nephew; and two great-nieces.
Described by his brother Bill as “a good hearted soul,” nephew Scott thought of him like a father. We knew him as kind and gentle, ready with a laugh. He loved Dixie Land Jazz and would travel all over to see his favorite bands, especially to San Francisco for the renowned Turk Murphy Jazz Band. While legally blind for the last twenty plus years of his life, he listened to hundreds of books and could still carry on a fiery political conversation!
As a small, scattered family we are extremely thankful to Scott who spent 14 years tending to both Helen and John, to staff of Shepherd of the Hills UMC for their visits and attention, and to Brookhaven Assisted Living and Emblem Hospice for their medical care and emotional support.
A Memorial Service will be held at a later date.