First Responders 04

Stephen Frank Burden

October 16, 1960 ~ December 7, 2019 (age 59)

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Stephen (Steve) Frank Burden, 59, of Champaign, Illinois transitioned peacefully on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at his residence.

Born in Presque Isle, Maine to the late Odie Grace and Arthur Burden, Steve was the third of five children. After his father’s retirement from the United States Air Force, the family would make Champaign their home.

Steve’s love for baseball would begin at an early age. He would attend and graduate from Centennial High School where he would play on the school’s baseball team. Steve would play baseball while attending Parkland Jr. College. A knee injury would put a halt to any further dreams of playing professionally, but not his passion for the game. He would coach baseball for 10 years at Centennial High School while also playing on several Champaign Park District leagues.

In 1984, Steve was hired by the City of Champaign’s Fire Department. He was most proud of his accomplishments during his 32 years of dedicated service. In 1995-1996, Steve was named Firefighter of the Year. On April 1, 1998, Steve became the department’s first African American Lieutenant. Steve was also an active member of the Champaign Fire Fighters Honor Guard until his retirement in 2016.

The fire department is where Steve would re-acquaint himself with a childhood neighbor of his grandmother’s, Jacqueline LeNoir-Polite, who would eventually become his wife of 33 years. To this union was born a daughter, Alicia. The couple’s love of children would see a host of nieces, nephews, and neighborhood children in and out of their home. Steve and Jackie would adopt 5 of their foster children.

Some of Steve’s affiliations were: Trainer for the University of Illinois’ Department of Labor Education Hazardous Material Training Program, AeroCare, Champaign SOG Office, baseball coach for Centennial High School, and the Champaign Park District.

 Steve hobbies included collecting black memorabilia, traveling, fishing, photography, and various music genre.

Steve is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, sons Marcus Burden, Mario Burden, Jason Polite (Chelsey), DeShawn Burden (Heather), DeAndre Burden, and Devon’tae Burden, all of Champaign, Illinois; daughters, Alicia Burden of Jonesboro, GA, Darrian Boyd, Destiny Burden, and Desiray Burden, Champaign, Illinois, 21 grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Steve was proceeded in death by both parents, an aunt, his in-laws, two nieces, a great-nephew, great-niece, and two sister in-laws. His life long journey will be celebrated on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, Urbana, IL, with the Rev. B.J. Tatum officiating. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m.  to 12:00 p.m., with the service to follow immediately. Burial will be held at the Woodlawn Lincoln Cemetery, Urbana, IL. Repast will be at the Round Barn Banquet Center, Champaign, Illinois. Leek & Sons Funeral Home, 1215 W. Bradley Ave. Urbana is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent to

Two of Steve’s favorite saying were, “It is what it is,” and “It’s just another day. For those left to mourn the loss of this man, it’s much more than that.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Stephen Frank Burden, please visit our floral store.


December 14, 2019

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Canaan Baptist Church (St. Urbana)

Funeral Service
December 14, 2019

12:00 PM
Canaan Baptist Church (St. Urbana)

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