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Obituary Stories

St. Vincent grad dedicated to family, school

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Carl Burlas' standout basketball career at Saint Vincent College in the 1950s started a lifelong devotion to the Catholic school.

Mr. Burlas played point guard under Oland “Dodo” Canterna and became the coach's first team captain. “They were friends from the very beginning,” said his wife, Charlotte Burlas. “There are numerous funny stories that I've heard about them over the years.”

He was inducted into the Saint Vincent College Athletic Hall of Fame, was named a Saint Vincent Letterman of Distinction and served on the Hall of Fame Committee when Canterna was chairman.

In retirement, he decided to downsize and move to Latrobe to be closer to the school. “He felt like he went to heaven because he loved Saint Vincent. We both loved the monks,” Mrs. Burlas said.

Carl D. Burlas of Latrobe died Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. He was 84.

Born on May 25, 1933, in Unity, he was a son of the late John A. and Bertha (Nessler) Burlas. He graduated from Greensburg High School in 1951 and from Saint Vincent College in 1955.

Mr. Burlas went to work in sales for Betz Laboratories in Trevose, traveling to steel mills and oil refineries in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. He sold chemical products for the treatment of industrial wastewater, said his daughter Mary Kae Vacsulka.

“He worked real hard for everything he got,” she said.

Mr. Burlas was a devoted father who spent quality time with his children, his daughter said.

“He was always there for us. My four brothers all played sports, and he was at every single game, no matter what — even the away games,” she said.

After becoming a widower, he married his longtime friend Charlotte A. Zakour in 1992. She was working as an economist for the federal government and living in Silver Spring, Md., at the time.

“Carl called me and he said to me, ‘Why don't you leave that rat race in Washington, D.C., and come up here and marry me?' ” she said. “We just kind of fell into it.”

Mr. Burlas also was an active parishioner at St. Vincent Basilica Parish, a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and an avid golfer.

“One of the highlights of his life was playing at Pebble Beach,” Vacsulka said.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Cordelia (Miller) Burlas; a son, Mark H. Burlas; and a daughter-in-law.

He is survived by his wife, Charlotte A. (Zakour) Burlas; four children, Mary Kae Vacsulka of Saltsburg, John A. Burlas III of Clarksburg, W.Va., Michael M. Burlas of Ligonier, and Stephen J. Burlas of Jeannette; three stepsons; 21 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

There will be no funeral home visitation.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Vincent Basilica, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe. Interment will be in St. Vincent Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Vincent Archabbey, designated for Seminary Education, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280.

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