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05/10/20 - NNHS Newsletter - Bill Burnette

William Robert Burnette
(d. 03 Feb 2020)

Newport News High School Class of 194_

Dear Friends and Schoolmates,
 We have a somewhat belated edition of the NNHS Newsletter today. Bill Burnette, Class of 194_, passed away in Norfolk on Monday, February 03, 2020 at the age of 92.

   He was the brother of the late Alexander Washington Burnette, Jr., Oscar Stone Burnette, Marcus Clifton Burnette (29 June 1918 - 06 Dec 2015), and Gretchen Hawley Burnette (d. 25 June 2004).

  From Elizabeth Feathers Buchan (Hampton HS - '61) - 05/10/20, 10:18 AM:

I don’t know if you knew about this one for Bill Burnette who passed away in February. I do not know when he would have graduated.

Happy Mother’s Day


   Thank you so much, Elizabeth, I did not have this information. Despite an extensive collections of yearbooks, I have thus far been unable to ascertain Bill's class at NNHS, but I very much appreciate your sharing this information with us.

From the H.D. Oliver Funeral Home - 02/0_/20:

        William Robert Burnette


    NORFOLK - William Robert Burnette, CLU, ChFC, age 92, peacefully passed to be with his Lord on February 3rd, 2020 in Norfolk, Virginia at home surrounded by his family.

The Burnette family, while devastated by his loss, proudly celebrates his full life and honors the indelible mark he left on this world. Bill’s cup runneth over in every way that really mattered. He was a humble, compassionate and generous person who always put his family first. He lived his 92 years with gusto. He spread happiness wherever he went, and his talent for making friends was legendary.

Bill was born in Rocky Mount, NC to the late Alexander Washington Burnette and Jessinee Hawley Burnette. As a young boy growing up in the golden age of aviation, he discovered flying and launched on a journey that ultimately became a 76-year love affair with aviation. Remarkably, he soloed an airplane at age 14 before he had driven a car and earned his pilots license before his drivers license. He passed that love onto his boys, and the family enjoyed many flying adventures inside and outside the US.

Bill graduated from Newport News High School and immediately enlisted and served in the Coast Guard during WWII. He then enrolled at the College of William and Mary where he became a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Class of 1950. He was then commissioned and served in the Air Force Reserve during the Korean conflict. He went on to a rewarding career of over 60 years with the Equitable Life Assurance Society. Bill was inducted into the Equitable Hall of Fame, and he was named an Equitable National Honor Agent.
Bill Burnette
  Bill encouraged his sons in all their entrepreneurial activities, and started his second and concurrent career in self storage when the three of them opened their first facility on the Outer Banks in 1999.

Bill was a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd, where he served and retired as Senior Warden. He was a member of Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, the James River Country Club, the Norfolk German Club, and Norfolk Rotary Club.

Bill loved to cruise the Chesapeake Bay with Betsy, his wife of over 50 years, and friends and family. Some of his happiest moments were spent hosting friends and watching sunrises and sunsets at their home on the Outer Banks. Bill played countless rounds of golf in the Southeast US, as well as Bermuda, England and Scotland. Each May he traveled and played golf with a group of friends known as the “Yamoshitas,” which he often called “one of the highlights of my life.”

Bill is survived by his wife Betty Lee (Betsy) Bickford Burnette; his two children and five grandchildren William Robert Burnette, Jr. and Michelle Bieber Burnette (Will and Abigail) and Michael Bickford Burnette and Cathy Canada Burnette (Ellie, Mary Catherine and Anna Grace); his sister-in-law Anne Colonna Rouse Burnette; nephews John Alexander Burnette and Oscar Stone Burnette, Jr; and niece Sarah Burnette Conrad and husband Roger. He is preceded in death by his brothers Alexander Washington Burnette, Jr., Oscar Stone Burnette, Marcus Clifton Burnette, sister Gretchen Hawley Burnette and nephew John Dashiel Rouse.

The family wishes to acknowledge all his caregivers and the wonderful staff at the Dedicated Care Center and Harbors Edge for their exceptional and compassionate care.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 7400 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk on Saturday, February 8 at 1pm. Reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Church of the Good Shepherd. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Norfolk Chapel is handling arrangements. Online condolences may be made at

Published in the H.D. Oliver Funeral Home on @ February 05, 2020.

Visit Funeral Home Guest Book


February __, 2020

We are saddened to hear of Bill's passing. Prayers and love for his family.

~ Anne and Harry Traylor

February __, 2020
Bill wrote his name into the lives of so many and held their hearts as the treasure most dear. He will be sorely missed and we pray for William R. Burnette and our family.

Terry, Bev, Sherry Ann, Christian, Jeff and Diana Faye.

~ Terry D. Walker

February __, 2020  
So sorry for your loss. May God comfort and strengthen you during this time of transition.

~ Delceno Miles
February __, 2020

Betsy, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in our thoughts and and prayers . Bill and you had full lives and positively touch so many others. You may take lotsa comfort from that. We will be thinking of you.
King and Mary von S.

~ L. King von Schilling

February __, 2020
Michael and Family, We are so sorry for your loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.

~ Bonnie Stretz

February __, 2020
Mike and Bill,
Your family i in my thoughts and prayers, now and in the future. You have my deepest sympathy.

~ Jim Braithwaite

February __, 2020
Dear Betsy and family,

Bill will be missed by all those who knew and loved him. I never saw him without a smile. May the Lord and happier memories give you comfort at this sad time. My deepest condolences.

~ Emily Harkins Filer

February __, 2020

~ Unsigned

February __, 2020  
Uncle Bill, you were a rock for the foundation that our family was built upon. You were ALWAYS there for us. When I was hospitalized from an accident while at VMI, you answered my family’s call for help. Without hesitation, you flew my parents in the middle of a June night to be with me in my hospital bed in Roanoke. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen you WITHOUT a smile on your face! Please forgive Maty and me for not being there today to say farewell. I spoke to Billy earlier this week and we will reach out to Michael and Betsy tomorrow. I will miss your smile. This is not goodbye. I am certain that I will see you again and appreciate your doing a little ReCon for the rest of us! I LOVE you Uncle Bill!

~ James V. Bickford, IV

February __, 2020    
Love and prayers surrounding you.

- Charlotte Gibson

May __, 2020


May __, 2020

   Our sincerest sympathies are extended to the Burnette family and their friends at this difficult time.

  Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER! We'll Always Have Buckroe! 

               Love to all, Carol





Carol Buckley Harty
7020 Lure Court
Fayetteville, NC 28311-9309

Lead On, O King Eternal

Words by Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888 (4 Apr 1862 - 24 Aug 1917)
Music (Lancashire) by
Henry T. Smart, 1836 (26 Oct 1813 -6 July 1879)

Shurtleff wrote this hymn wrote this hymn for the graduation ceremony at Andover Theological Seminary, where he was a member of the class of 1888.

 Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home:
Through days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong,
And now, O King eternal,
We lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal,
Till sin's fierce war shall cease,
And Holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace;
For not with swords loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums,
But deeds of love and mercy,
The heav'nly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow, not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning
Where'er thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o'er us;
We journey in its light:
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.

"Lead On, O King Eternal" midi and lyrics courtesy of - 12/07/07

Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy of – 03/15/05

Animated Military Flags clip art courtesy of - 06/18/03

Hampton High School's Crab clip art courtesy of - 10/02/05
Replaced courtesy of - 02/17/09

Rotary Club Logo courtesy of - 01/16/09

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of - 08/12/04

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