BURKETT , Donald R., 89, formerly of Johnstown, and a resident of Monroe, La., since June 2001, went home to be with his heavenly Father May 7, 2008, at 11:40 a.m. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have remained faithful. Well done my good and faithful servant.” Donald, the third of four children, was born April 20, 1919, in Salt Block, Pa., at 6 p.m. to the union of Sylvester Gary and Bessie Ellen Diehl Burkett. His father was a coal miner and his mother a young housewife. The family moved 25 miles to Johnstown, Pa., where he earned the nickname, Skinny Burkett, at Dale Borough High School. Here is where he met his future wife, Nina Jane Himes. Don was a good athlete, playing football, basketball and tennis before graduating. World War II broke out and as part of this Nation’s greatest generation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Indo China theater at the rank of Sgt., frequently driving the perilous Burma Road. Honorably discharged, Donald returned to Johnstown and worked at Bethlehem Steel. He then became reacquainted with Nina. They were married on June 23, 1946, at Beulah UMC and enjoyed 60 years of marriage. Donald left the steel mill to operate his own retail service business in the community and surrounding area. Donald was preceded in death by his parents; wife; and siblings; sister, Marie Costo, and husband, Louis; brother, Earl, and wife, Rose; and brother, Merle, age 9. Also preceding in death were his father and mother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Himes Jr. of Johnstown, and his dear sister-in-law, Joyce Cook of Loysville, Pa. Left behind to cherish Don’s memory are his son, David Gary Burkett, M.D., and wife, Judy Burkett; grandchildren, David Scott Burkett, M.D., and wife, Ashley Burkett; Laurie Burkett Smiley, J.D., and husband, Shane Smiley, CRNA, all of Monroe, La.; Courtney Burkett Schindler, J.D., and husband, Kevin Schindler, M.D., of San Antonio, Texas; and Brittany Burkett, a Jr. at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas; great-grandchildren, Katherine Elizabeth Burkett, Camille Claire Burkett, Ella Scott Burkett, Marshall Henry Burkett, Benjamin David Burkett and Taylor Alexis Smiley of Monroe, La.; brother-in-law, Philip Cook, DVM, of Loysville, Pa.; and numerous nieces and nephews. Nina and Donald were proof that opposites attract. Don was quiet and offered few opinions while Nina was verbal and had many opinions. A thesaurus would need more pages to describe how good, wonderful and kind Donald was. Honest Abe is a good reference. He was a gentle Ben of a man. His personality was engaging. His love was unconditional and steadfast. Donald’s strength, endurance and faithfulness are to be honored. A Christian from birth, he loved the Lord and knew his Holy Father. A regular church attendee, he was a lifelong member of Beulah United Methodist Church. While living in Monroe, La., he attended Lea Joyner UMC. Don enjoyed fishing, baseball and more baseball. His family suspects he was a Yankee fan just like his father. He was humorous and relished the thought of solitaire, pinochle, hearts, gin, checkers, dominos and almost any other board game. He was unpretentious and unassuming, seeing the good in all people. His love for food is legendary. He served many restaurants and eateries as a food taster, menu critic and oral advertiser without ever asking for a cent. He truly knew the definition of buffet, especially dessert buffet. Even though he was a diabetic, diets were only for other people. This having been said, it is said in loving jest. The greatest compliment that may be bestowed upon a man is that of being a great, great dad. He was a great, great dad. Time will heal the wound and ease the pain of his loss, but the memories of our 57 years together will always remain. I love you, Daddy, and I will sorely miss you. Thank you for everything. Friends will be received from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Richland. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday with Rev. Charles Shaffer officiating. Interment will follow at Grandview Cemetery with military rites conducted by Menoher Post 155 VFW Ritual Team. Memorials can be made to Beulah United Methodist Church, 716 Bedford Street, Johnstown, Pa. 15902, in memory of Donald.
Father: Gary Silvester BURKETT b: 6 SEP 1893 in Pa.
Mother: Bessie Ellen DIEHL b: 13 MAY 1896 in Pa.
Marriage 1 Nina Jane HIMES b: 23 JUN 1920 in Johnstown, Cambria Co., Pa.
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