William M. "Bill" Burnett


Posted: Monday, April 22, 2002

Kenai resident William M. "Bill" Burnett died Friday, April 19, 2002, at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna. He was 71.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Kenai at 7 p.m. A reception will follow at the Burnett home at 1304 Kiana Lane.

Mr. Burnett was born May 20, 1930, in Whitefish, Mont., to William Castleman Burnett and Della Janicke Burnett. He lost his mother at an early age and, during the Great Depression, he rode the rails with his father while he looked for work. When he was 15, Bill came to Alaska on one of the old Alaska steamship vessels.

Except for his time in college at the University of Oregon and while he was in the military, Mr. Burnett lived in Alaska for the next 57 years.

He married at age 19 and worked at a variety of jobs in order to support a growing family of seven children. In 1968, he married his present wife, Jill, and together they began his tax and accounting firm, W.M. Burnett and Associates Inc. (now known as Burnett and Hammer) in Kenai.

"He treasured his many clients over the years as personal friends and looked forward to his annual visits with them like one big family reunion, catching up on all the latest news and events in their lives and sharing those in his," his family said.

"Bill was a strongly positive man who saw life as an exciting adventure with great possibilities, and it provided him with an inexhaustible supply of stories with which he would entertain by the hour. No matter how frustrating or discouraging an event, Bill's guiding philosophy was that at least there was a good story to be gained. 'The fun is in the telling,' he would always say.

"He was a man of great compassion and generosity and provided many a shoulder of support to others in times of need. Bill's other great loves were his garden, greenhouse and motor home, where he spent some of his happiest times. Cooking was also one of his delights, and his collection of cookbooks and kitchen appliances is legendary.

"Over the course of his life, Bill came to have a deep love for God and God's purposes for the future of the Earth and obedient mankind. That included a strong faith in the Resurrection, which strengthened him in the trying times of his final illness," his family said.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Jill W. Burnett of Kenai, who said, "He was the love of my life, my best friend, my soul mate. Our family's loss is indescribable."

Mr. Burnett also is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Victoria and Brian Scully of Long Lake, Minn.; son William C. Burnett of Soldotna; daughter and son-in-law Heather and Jeff Church of Kenai; son and daughter-in-law David C. and Shannon Burnett of Kenai; daughter and son-in-law Valerie and Bob Wilson of Freeport, Maine; and his daughter Dawn Kipps of Hedgesville, W.V. He is also survived by grandchildren Tara Schmakel of Wayzata, Minn.; Brandi Hegel of St. Paul, Minn.; William D., Travis and Trent Burnett of Kenai; Michael Burnett of Seattle; Jacquelyn Church of Kenai; Sara Self of Sterling; Sean and Chris Booher of Kenai; Melissa Zuke of Kenai; Joseph Kensinger of Honolulu; Phillip and Rebecca Kensinger of Kenai; Amanda Abeson of Mableton, Ga.; Brooke Colello of Freeport, Maine; Brianne Wilson of Freeport; Holly Kipps and Kyra Rene Burnett of Hedgesville; their spouses and 12 great-grandchildren.

Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.

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