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John Wesley Burbank, Lynnwood, Washington, entered eternal rest May 13, 2023, at home with his wife by his side.
John was born in Tonasket, Washington, on August 29, 1926. He married Linda Mitchell, September 11, 1982, on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. Years later a convalidation ceremony was performed at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Everett, Washington, on September 11, 2021.
John’s former wife was Miriam Solomon with whom he had their two children.
If you knew John at all, you knew he loved telling jokes and stories. And just to be sure you hadn’t forgotten them? He’d tell them perhaps two or three times more!
As John’s wife and closest friend, it’s now my turn to step in and tell you a story myself - the story of John’s life.
The son of a Free Methodist minister, John was 15 years old at the time. This particular Sunday morning, John decided to sneak out of one of his dad’s services. Once home he turned on the radio. Shocked by what he heard, he ran back to tell the congregation. It was December 7, 1941, and Pearl Harbor had just been bombed. We were at war.
Two years later John left high school early, passed himself off as an 18-year-old and joined the United States Navy. Already a skilled photographer, John was commissioned as a Photographer’s Mate Third Class assigned to duty in Okinawa. Though some of John’s experiences were undoubtedly dangerous, everything John said about his time in the Navy was positive and a reflection of his deep love of country. “All I had to shoot was a camera,” John was fond of saying.
After the war was over, John returned to school to earn his GED and then his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Seattle Pacific College where he also helped teach photography. This is where John met his dear friend Walter McCormick. Later John received his Master of Education degree from the University of Washington.
As an elementary school teacher and principal in the Edmonds School District, John developed a reputation for successfully pulling off first one, then another unorthodox activity over his 30 year career. The helicopter landing on the grounds of College Place Elementary! The hot air balloon! The parachutist! The principal himself riding a unicycle for a school assembly!
More importantly though were John’s lesser known qualities. He was not only one who could instinctively see a need but one who would step up to meet that need. I recall him telling me about a student who had obviously had very little dental care. John, being John, was not about to simply stand by and do nothing, so it wasn’t long before that little boy was seated in the dental chair of a friend of John’s. Dental work - free of charge.
An outdoorsman at heart, John climbed every major peak in Washington State, hiked many of its trails, and skied down many of its runs. On weekends John and I would climb into our motorhome and head up to Stevens Pass. As Director of the Edmonds Ski School, he would oversee instructors, chaperones, and as many as 700 students. John also started an outdoor education program that nurtured many students toward a lifelong love of the out-of-doors.
John’s passion for serving the community went beyond his days as an educator and principal. As president of the Rotary Club of Lynnwood in 1997, he presided over the ribbon cutting of the opening of Rotary’s Affordable Housing for Seniors. He later served as Deputy Governor under Bob Wilson, the Governor of Rotary and John’s good friend. John was also one of two Rotarians who coordinated the Welcome to Lynnwood signs. Rotary’s motto, “Service Over Self,” was more than just a motto to John.
But John loved a good time, too. He and good friend Richard Hawk would meet at the “library” many Friday afternoons where they’d mellow out once the school week was over. And when school was out for the summer? John and his principal buddies would head over to the Okanogan and cast their lines into the deep, cold lakes of eastern Washington.
And woodworking? Well, to John it was much more than a hobby - it was his heart. Nothing made John happier than giving a friend or relative a beautiful piece of art he’d created in his shop. This well-rounded man could also cook and garden equally well. His flaming chicken was quite the production! A little known fact about John was that he loved classical music almost as much as the traditional hymns he grew up with.
Most especially, John loved his family. As a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he leaves behind many wonderful memories. John was a man who cared for, devoted time to, and cherished his loved ones. The adventures and experiences he provided them will not be forgotten.
Never afraid of a challenge, this man of quiet faith had a passion for everything he did. John loved life, lived it fully, and lived it well. His was “the Greatest Generation.”
Rest in “comfort and peace,” my dear one.
John is survived by his adoring wife Linda; his much-loved children, Marilyn and Chuck Burbank; grandchildren Kevilina, Stephen, Elizabeth, and Phillip Burbank (Rochelle); and great-grandchildren Zoie, Maya, and Layla Burbank.
John was predeceased by his parents, Charles Wesley Burbank and Bessie Burbank; siblings and their spouses, Keith Burbank (Lilian), Thyra O’Brien (Ed), Beulah Root (Merle), and Marvin Burbank (Betty).
A memorial service celebrating John’s life will be held at Maple Park Church in Lynnwood, Washington, on September 16, 2023, at 1:00.
Our deepest thanks to Continuum Care Hospice in Snohomish, Washington, for its devoted care of John as well as to Emmick Funeral Home, Seattle, for its caring and compassionate staff.
In place of flowers, please consider making a monetary donation in honor of John. Donations can be sent to: Maple Park Church, 17620 60th Ave. W., Lynnwood, WA 98037.
To share your condolences and memories of John, please visit his Tribute Wall, located above.
- Care Entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home -
Please direct Memorial Donations to the facility/charity listed in the obituary above