Joseph ”Denny” Burya aka Big Bear 1940-2017
Denny was born on May 18, 1940 in Chewelah WA to Joe and Marie (Nilles) Burya. Denny passed away peacefully, with his sister Joni at his side, on Sunday afternoon January 15, 2017. Coincidentally, this was the birth date of his brother Nick who the family had lost to a car accident years ago.
Denny was a man who had lived two very different lives. During his first life he attended the Valley School and was a great athlete. He especially loved basketball and the family traditional sport “Baseball.” After graduating high school he served two years in the Army before being honorably discharged. He was a man who could literally do any job he chose and there was no task beyond his capabilities. He then went to work at the Valley Saw Mill where he was soon promoted to head sawyer. After this, he spent many years working at Bauman’s Custom Meats. The Baumans would be the first to say that their success was directly supported by Denny’s work ethic and skills. He also successfully managed the Chewelah Bowling Alley for many years, all the while working at the one job he loved most—Farming! Denny was an avid hunter and he spent many years traveling to the Blue Mountains with a varied group of friends. During these trips Big Bear was usually the camp cook. During this first life he married his loving wife Margaret and they were together until the day after Christmas in 2010 when they were involved in a tragic head-on collision as they were going to breakfast. This was when Denny’s second life began.
The first night he was in the I.C.U., the nurse on duty told me Denny was the toughest Son of a Gun he had ever seen come through the unit. Denny fought through several surgeries, an amputation, and a multitude of infections to prove almost everyone who knew him wrong by returning home during March of 2012. Once back home he was able to drive his Puddle Jumper around his ranch. He was able to enjoy counting and watching the Elk and Deer out of his living room window and even shoot a coyote once in a while. Denny also continued to make his famous smoked sausage and pepperoni in his custom meat shop. Denny was an avid T.V. watcher. He especially loved Saturday Music Night, Gonzaga Basketball, Mariner Baseball, Judge Judy, Gunsmoke, and the Western channel.
Denny was very lucky to have friends Raymond, Don, Tom and Sam, Josh and Hayley, Carl and Sally, Terry and Millie, Dennis and Jan, and Kevin and Cyndi all during his time of greatest need. We want to sincerely thank Dr. Boone and his entire staff for the care they gave to Denny. We also want to thank the staff of Home Health Chewelah, especially Lisa, for the wonderful care they gave Denny. Finally, the care and attention at the Gardens on University was greatly appreciated—with special thanks to the “Girls of the T.C.U.
Denny is survived by sisters, Joni Stallings and husband Lloyd, Kathy Nett and husband Tom and a brother David Burya and wife Teresa.
There will be a private graveside service at the request of Denny. He will be laid to rest in the Jump Off Joe Cemetery next to his wife Margaret.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Wellpinit VFW, Attention Marshall Wynne at Box 100 Wellpinit, WA 99040, or the Chewelah Legion Hall in Chewelah.
Please visit the online memorial and sign the guestbook at www.danekasfunerlchapel.com
Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory have been entrusted with the arrangements.
“He ain’t heavy—he’s my brother!”