The Late Nellie Mae Burke-Ransom ("Honeybee"), the 11th child of Charlie and Patsy Burke, Jr, was devoted to having family gatherings for her six children and their families. She expressed the desire for her own sisters and brothers and their children to have this same type of fellowship with her mother, Patsy and her sister, Rosa on several occasions. She was always informed, "not now."
Upon Patsy's death in 1986, Gary Bolden, her grandson, expressed at that time, "What a terrible way for our families to get together." Gary and Nathaniel Brooks, also Patsy's grandson, approached other family members concerning this matter. Nellie's desire was becoming a reality. She was very instrumental in organizing the first meeting in establishing the Burke-Gallon Family Reunion.
We met at the home of her son, Nathaniel Brooks, in Daytona Beach, Florida. After much discussion and planning, the Burke-Gallon Family Reunion was formally organized. Joyce Brooks-Sims (deceased), also Nellie's daughter, was elected as the first Burke-Gallon Family Reunion President. Her sister, Daisy Lou Burke-Brewer (deceased) was also in attendance. At a second meeting held at Gary Bolden's home in Miami, Florida, the groundwork for the reuion was presented to the family members and we were on our way. Unfortunately, the Lord called Nellie home before she could physically be in attendance at our reunion. However, she was there in spirit.
The first reunion was held June 21-23, 1996 in Orlando, Florida at the Orlo Vista Community Center. At that time, there were only 6 of the 13 children of Charlie and Patsy remaining with us - Cornelia Burke-Banks, Mae Ella Burke-Thomas, Daisy Lou Burke-Brewer, Selena Burke-Lyons, Mary Lee Burke-Bolden, and Rosa Lee Burke.
We have had a total of 13 reunions: #1 - June 21-23, 1996 in Orlando, Florida; #2 - June 27-29, 1997 in Sanford, Florida; #3 - June 19-21, 1998 in Miami, Florida; #4 - August 10-12, 2001 in Daytona Beach, Florida; #5 - June 20-22, 2003 in Monticello, Florida; #6 - June 16-19, 2005 in Ft. Knox, Kentucky, #7 - June 14-17, 2007 in Orlando, Florida; #8 - June 13-16, 2009 in Bouie, Maryland; #9 - June 16-19, 2011 in Orlando, Florida; #10 - June 20-23, 2013 in Rochester, New York; #11- June 18-21, 2015 in Nassau, Bahamas; #12 - June 15-18, 2017 in Austin, Texas; and now #13 - June 13-16, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
As we come together for our 13th Burke-Gallon Family Reunion, we must realize that each reunion is always a time for reflections. We are coming together to continue honoring our foreparents, Charlie Burke, Jr. and Patsy Gallon-Burke. As we meet, greet, chat, and chew, let us endeavor to keep love flowing from heart to heart. And remember, in the words of Alex Haley and I quote, "In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, the bridge to our future."