Local educator and entrepreneur, Richard “Mr. Ricky” Irvin Burford, 71, of Bloxom, passed away on Feb. 19, 2022, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Born on April 30, 1950, in Nassawadox, he was the son of the late Alfred Coleburn Burford Sr. and the late Helen Jenkins Burford.
A graduate of Parksley High School’s Class of 1968, Mr. Burford was a member of the 4-H All Stars and was fortunate enough to win the ANEC essay contest. The prize was a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mr. Burford often noted that President Johnson had the softest hands he had ever felt. According to Burford’s father, this meant Johnson had never done a hard day of work in his life.
During his high school career, Mr. Burford worked at Jaxon’s in Parksley where his co-worker and dear friend, Aileen Hopkins, gave him the nickname “Sweet Taters.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Wesleyan University and a master’s degree from Old Dominion University. During his summer months home from college, Mr. Burford held a position at NASA.
Mr. Burford was a dedicated educator for Accomack County Public Schools for 32 years. He worked as a general-education teacher in various elementary grade-levels as well as a math teacher at the middle school-level. He also spent many years working in Special Education and often taught music classes during the summer. He retired in 2004.
In his spare time, Mr. Burford owned and operated the Bloxom floral shop and beauty salon, “Mr. Ricky’s.” He met everyone with a smile and a hug. He poured his heart and kindness into everyone around him. From catering special events such as weddings and parties to delivering sentimental flowers for birthdays or funerals, Mr. Burford was passionate about ensuring each of his customers and friends were pleased.
Mr. Burford is survived by his beloved niece, Connie Burford, and her children, Coleby and Caleb Burford, of Bloxom, who were the apples of his eye; a nephew, Richie Burford (Linda), of Princess Anne, Md.; a dear sister-in-law, Dottie Turner, of Hallwood; two great nephews, Kyle Burford, of Salisbury, Md., and Ryan Taylor, of Parksley; his great niece, Ashley Padgett (Matt), and children, Tyler and Hailey Padgett, of Hallwood; and his great niece, Lauren Taylor, of Hallwood.
He doted on his family. Whether it be watching his great niece’s volleyball games, attending his great-nephew’s swim competitions, or traveling to Buckingham Correctional Center to pick up and adopt a dog for his niece, Mr. Burford loved the time he spent with his family.
He was a member of the Calvary United Methodist Church for many years. Most recently, he attended Hallwood Baptist Church. He played the organ at both places. Mr. Burford was involved in civic organizations, the Accomack County Nursing Home Board, and Area 19 Special Olympics.
Always the activist, Mr. Burford rallied for and got the teachers in the county one of the largest raises in the county’s history after he discovered that “the dog catcher” made more money than the majority of the teachers at the time. Mr. Burford could only surmise that the county cared more for the surplus population of stray cats and dogs than they did for the counties children.
In addition to his parents, Mr. Burford was preceded in death by his brother, Alfred “Coleburn” Burford Jr.; his sister, Connie Coleburn Burford; his niece, Teresa “Tessie” Taylor, and his dear friend, George “Jim” Turner.
A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, at Thornton Funeral Home, in Parksley, with Pastor Milton Bunting officiating. Interment will follow in the Parksley Cemetery. A reception will be held following the interment at the Parksley Firehouse.
The family will receive friends Saturday evening from 5 to 7 p.m., at the funeral home.
To sign the guest book online, visit: www.thorntonfuneralhome.net
Memorial contributions may be made to the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Special Olympics, Area 19 via SOVA Area 19,
C/O Sandy Taylor,
P.O. Box 1062,
Cheriton, VA 23316.
This is a cause that Mr. Burford was devoted to and annually raised money for, along with his long-time friend and co-worker, Susan Wilder.