Burt's Way

Teresa Burt Hodge and Pidge Burt Yeager stand in front of the street sign that honors the legacy of their parents. The Herald/Briana Wilson

Pidge Burt Yeager and Teresa Burt Hodge were filled with joy as they stood in front of a street sign meant to help honor the legacy of their parents, Terry and Wanda Burt.

On Saturday, July 3, Eclectic residents, members of the Eclectic Town Council, Mayor Gary Davenport and family members of Terry and Wanda Burt gathered at the Burt’s home at 335 Harden Street for the renaming of Knight Street to Burt’s Way. The measure was approved at an Eclectic Town Council meeting in May.

The street, which leads to the Burt’s home, now bears the name of the two well-respected residents who are now deceased. Terry Burt died in September 2013 while Wanda Burt died in March 2021. 

The Burts arrived in Eclectic in 1963 as faculty members at Elmore County High School. At the time, their oldest daughter, Pidge, was just 6 months old. Terry Burt, known as Coach Burt, was the school's head football coach and a teacher for 28 years alongside his wife who was also a teacher at ECHS.

With several family members looking on, Yeager and Hodge accepted a proclamation from Davenport recognizing the life and service of Terry and Wanda Burt.

During the street dedication ceremony, Primus Brown, a former football player under Coach Burt and a student of Wanda Burt, served as the guest speaker. Brown is now the bishop at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tuskegee.

As he began to speak, Brown said the date, July 3, is bittersweet for him. It’s the anniversary of the day he lost his mother in a car accident years ago as an adolescent, but it also marks the time when the Burts stepped into his life in a significant way. He said the Burts were the father and mother figure he needed in his life.

Aside from the role the Burts served in his life, he said they also brought the town together.

“He won state championships with several different teams amid a racial divide,” Brown said.

Brown said the Burts inspired cultural change through a type of love that could only come from God. Aside from being a coach and teacher, Brown said the Burts were mentors, change agents and disciplinarians.

“I can’t think of two more deserving people to have their names etched into the developing history of our town, the town of Eclectic,” Brown said.

Looking back, Yeager said the purpose of her parents moving to Eclectic was much broader than she had realized.

“It was about more than football,” she said. “It was about the people, building relationships and impacting lives. God has placed so many people in our lived through our parents.”

With her father’s success as a high school football coach came several opportunities to move to bigger markets, but Yeager said her father chose to stay in Eclectic.

“He loved it here,” she said.

Hodge said was overwhelmed with gratitude to the town. She said it was council member David Goodwin who approached her family to see if they’d be OK with the town naming a street after her parents.

“We told him that it was fine with us and they got to work on it,” Hodge said. “I’m just so grateful to the town and the Town Council for wanting to honor our parents in this way.”