Legislators to name RMSP Conference Center in honor of Bob & Gail Burleson

Published 5:39 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

Next week, state and local officials will gather with community members to honor two residents who have given so much to Roan Mountain.
On Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m., State Rep. Timothy Hill and State Sen. Rusty Crowe will be joined by Roan Mountain State Park staff to host a special dedication ceremony to name the park’s Conference Center in honor of the late Robert “Bob” Burleson and his wife, Gail Pritchard Burleson. The ceremony is open to the public, and everyone is invited to attend.
Bob Burleson was a well-known local businessman and restaurant owner. He operated both the iconic Bob’s Dairyland in Roan Mountain as well as the former O’Dellys restaurant once located in Valley Forge.
He also served the Tennessee General Assembly from 1972 to 1986. He was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1972, then in 1978 he unseated three-term incumbent Marshall Nave to serve as the Senator for the 3rd Senatorial District. Crowe now holds that seat. During Bob Burleson’s tenure in the legislature, much of the development of Roan Mountain State Park was accomplished.
Both Bob and Gail Burleson were also highly active in their hometown of Roan Mountain where they were members of local civic organizations and worked on projects for the betterment of the community.
“You can’t talk about Gail without talking about Bob, and you can’t talk about Bob without talking about Gail,” Hill said. “Bob did a lot for the community and Gail was right there will him all the way.”
“The community is a reflection of their legacy,” he added.
In July of 2011, state and local officials dedicated Highway 143, which runs through Bob’s beloved Roan Mountain State Park, in his honor, naming it the “Robert ‘Bob’ Burleson Parkway.”
Bob Burleson passed away in October 2015 at the age of 81, but both his memory and his legacy live on in Roan Mountain.
Hill said he feels naming the park’s Conference Center after both Bob and Gail Burleson would be a fitting tribute to them and their history of service to their community.
“I’ve been looking for some way to honor them for what they’ve done,” Hill said. “It’s our way of saying thank you.”
In addition to their impact locally, Hill said Bob Burleson is still remembered in Nashville by those who served with him as well as those who came after.
“When I was first elected people would ask me how Bob was doing,” Hill said. “They still ask after Gail.”
For Hill, the chance to honor Bob and Gail Burleson is something that strikes a personal note with him.
“From a personal perspective, Bob was one of the dearest friends I’ve encountered in politics,” Hill said, saying he often sought Bob Burleson’s advice in matters. “He looked out for me when I was first getting started.”
When Hill first ran for office, Bob Burleson assisted him with his campaign in Carter County and endorsed him for the position.
“That meant so much to me,” Hill said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox