Robert Arthur Burkhart, Jr., 81, died peacefully at his Lawrence home Thursday, February 6, 2020, just as he wanted, in his recliner in front of the tv with his beloved dog, Carter, in his lap and his loving wife by his side. Robert, who was known to family and friends as Bob, was born April 15, 1938 in Maywood, Ca. to Robert and Stella (Kosis) Burkhart. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Dixie Burkhart; his children Bob, Diann, and Loralie (Jack); grandchildren Autum, Trudy, and Adam; great-grandchildren Jazmin and Sawyer Grace; and sister Marnetta. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Duane.
Bob enlisted in the United States Navy in 1954 at the age of 16 and was honorably discharged in 1977 as a Senior Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate. The recipient of a Bronze Star and a Personal Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy, Senior Chief Burkhart was an aircrew member who patrolled the Atlantic during the Cuban Missile Crisis and spotted enemy missile sites during the Vietnam War. He was shot down and rescued at sea in Vietnam and saved an aircraft from crashing on a flight from Honolulu to California. While stationed in New Zealand, he shuttled supplies to the American station in Antarctica.
Bob was also stationed in Japan, the Philippines, and Benton Harbor, where he served as a Navy Recruiter. Although he didn’t talk much of his 22 years of service to the nation, Bob said: “Nobody would believe it if they asked.”
Bob worked as a paramedic while serving in the navy. After his discharge, he earned both LPN and RN licenses as a nurse and was awarded a Bachelor of Health Care Administration degree from St. Joseph College in Maine. He worked in many areas of healthcare, and that was how he met his wife Dixie. They were married September 6, 1987 in Reno, Nev.
Bob was also employed by the State of California for fourteen years as a nursing home evaluator, legislative analyst for health care, and a supervising Registered Nurse in the California prison system. After retiring from the State of California, he and Dixie moved to southwest Michigan, where he worked as a hospice nurse. He finally retired from all work in 2013 at the age of 75.
Bob enjoyed rebuilding cars and motorcycles, woodworking, home maintenance, television, and good times with his dogs and cats. Every Friday was dinner and a movie with Dixie. Bob was a 32nd degree Mason.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Wings of Hope or a charity of your choice.
Bob’s family will hold a private memorial service, with full military honors, in the spring.
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