Services

Funeral Mass

Sat. Jan. 14, 2023
10:00 am

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

507 S 4th Street
Richmond , TX 77469.
Sat. Jan. 14, 2023
10:00 am
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
507 S 4th Street
Richmond , TX 77469.
In Memory of
Johnny Walter Burkett
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Johnny Walter Burkett was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, on December 9, 1947.

John was not a shy man. He’d tell you he wasn’t scared of snakes, bugs, or any creature he encountered. Growing up, John lived in the city with his mother and stepfather L.G. Agard, but often visited his grandmother in the countryside of Jackson, Mississippi. He enjoyed being spoiled by all the country cooking of Mississippian greens and cornbread. John was drawn to befriend the rural snakes, even poisonous ones. He flaunted highland moccasins around until his grandma noticed, inciting shrieks of “Drop it! No, don’t drop it! No, drop it!” amid John’s chuckles. His future wife Pauline did not share the same affection for snakes and, through laughter at his childhood stories, warned John never to bring a moccasin around her. 

As a star defensive player for the Provine High Rams, John’s game-saving plays were frequently mentioned in the local newspaper. He earned the Ram of the week award in five of ten games during the 1966 football season and was honored with the H.E. Allen Award for the most outstanding defensive lineman. John’s spirit and determination both on and off the field caught the attention of The University of Alabama’s Coach, Bear Bryant. Bryant pursued recruiting John, but a severe knee injury sidelined the dream. Although John’s future wasn’t in football, his first love was Alabama, and he continued cheering “Roll Tide” for Bama’ throughout his life.

After high school, John served in the U.S. Air Force and studied political science at Hinds Junior College in Mississippi. John worked in various sales positions as he started his career. At Orkin, John was assigned to the hilly, southern, small-town living of Kentucky. It provided John with the perfect backdrop to display his gift for storytelling and the need for some firearm training since the locals didn’t take kindly to the ‘big city’ salesman. But John, given a chance, won them over.

In 1980, John joined the Baton Rouge Police Department. During his 30-year tenure, Officer Burkett served in uniform patrol, the detective office, and a specialized narcotics unit, reaching the rank of lieutenant. John was decorated with two Life-Saving Awards and one Medal of Merit.

During his career, John faced devastating tragedy and life-changing experiences. Still, each day, Lt. Burkett returned to face the same surroundings and fight the same battles with professionalism and expertise that other officers sought. From the newsworthy moments to the acts of kindness, John used his skills beyond the call of duty. He lived by the oath even when off duty, from performing life-saving CPR to a heart attack victim to giving chase to a purse snatcher while vacationing with family. 

One June afternoon, John found a worn bible in the middle of a roadway. He opened it to find the owner’s meaningful passages marked along with other notations. He recognized this was not just a lost book but a meaningful roadmap of the bible-owner’s life. Without the owner’s name, John used his detective skills to locate and return the lost treasure to a grateful Mr. Brewer. This is one of the many stories from Letters of Commendation written to Officer Burkett over his service to the Baton Rouge Police Department. 

His police career would lead him to the love of his life in 1982. One early morning, John entered Police Headquarters, wandering down a long hallway of closed doors until he came upon one that was open. John's “snoopy” nature brought him through that open door to an officer by the name of Pauline. Immediately, there was a connection they felt for each other. He was a gentleman willing to be open about himself, the good and the bad. John was devoted to Pauline from the first moment he saw her. After six months of dating, Pauline asked John to marry her.

On April 1, 1983, John and Pauline Burkett married, uniting in faith and families. Upon meeting Pauline’s daughters, Michelle and Rachel, he introduced himself as ‘Bucket.’ He had a skilled eye that could spy just the perfect outfit for Rachel when they shopped at The Limited. He always tolerated (and maybe enjoyed) her rock music, cranking up the rock band Tool in the truck while Pauline was home.

John’s hobbies of fishing and boating expanded under Pauline’s influence; she always dreamed of having a boat again and drifting through lakes and swamps, fishing and relaxing. John joined in that dream with enthusiasm leading to a camp along the Tickfaw river later in life.

The Camp, halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, became their refuge. John and Pauline enjoyed Mardi Gras on the water and visits to New Orleans to try different cuisines and restaurants and visit historical sites in the French Quarter and the Garden District. Dining out with John was not just a meal; it was an experience spanning hours of decadent indulgence with multiple courses ending with dessert, coffee, and Drambuie. When dining with John, it was always a left-side-of-the-menu meal. He would befriend chefs and lucky-be the waitstaff because he was the most generous of tippers. John dabbled in the kitchen with specialties in sauces and sweets and dreamed of opening his own restaurant.

John enjoyed fishing, hunting, and piloting a boat. He was “da best” pilot to his grandkids; even if sometimes he got a little lost or the waters were rougher than expected. That love for the water was shared with all of his grandchildren.

One time, Papaw John took Eric and Tyler fishing off the Gulf, Tyler for the first time. John didn’t want to fish, taking a moment to hone in on the gentle tug of the waves. He wanted to watch the joy of his grandson on the big Bay Boat. They fished down the coast and made their way home through New Orleans. The boys were talking, not really paying attention, and somehow took the wrong exit. Instead of heading home, they ended up towing a Bay Boat through a French Quarter Mardi Gras Parade! John hit a curb and had a blowout; he was fit to be tied, but Johnny got a kick out of it. Eric doesn’t think a Bay Boat has sailed through the French Quarter before them or since.

John was dedicated to his loved ones, and his grandkids remember him fondly. Eric remembers one of Delaney's dance recitals where John brought her a big bouquet of flowers, and she just lit up. She was thrilled to have both him and Pauline there. Delaney and Tyler reminisce about spending Thanksgiving at their grandparents’ house, sharing meals and laughter. John regularly attended Kelsey’s soccer games, and even though he didn’t understand all the rules of soccer like he did football, he cheered as much as possible. Caroline recalls John and Pauline waiting in the lobby to give hugs and praise for her and Travis after band concerts. Caroline blushed as they clapped and drew attention to her, but is forever grateful for their kindness and support in her endeavors. Papaw and Nana shared Friday night lights with the Corbins as they cheered on the Taylor High Mustangs, reminiscing about his days of football grandeur. His one regret was that he never got to tackle Archie Manning. 

John loved his four-legged friends, especially his dachshund Jackson and basset hound Bently. Bently was loveable and gentle, and Jackson was his constant companion, who fit perfectly in the spot of his forearm.

John could craft a great story with his quirky sense of humor, fueled by many of his law enforcement experiences that he loved to share with friends and family. His deadpan facial expressions added to his tales. When Kelsey asked Papaw why he only drank black coffee, he explained finding the time for coffee was tricky on the job. He explained he grew fond of the bitter taste and that coffee boosted comradery among officers. Relaxing moments out of the public’s eye allowed officers to vent and bond with the peers they depend on for their safety, even if they were brief. The joking, laughing, and good-natured teasing kept his team from becoming bitter like their coffee. Rumor has it that John started a few water balloon fights when the precinct had a slow day.

Even as a young man at Provine High, John was drawn toward his heavenly father. He dedicated his time to his faith upon retirement. After attending Catholicism classes for a year, John received the Sacraments of The Holy Eucharist and Confirmation at the 2011 Easter Vigil. John and Pauline moved to Richmond, Texas, in 2013 and became Parishioners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. At Sacred Heart, John joined the Knights of Columbus, reaching the rank of Grand Knight. John enjoyed the fellowship of his brother Knights and serving alongside them.

On Thursday, December 29, 2022, at the age of 75, Johnny Walter Burkett went to meet his Savior holding his wife Pauline’s hand. He was preceded in death by his mother, Gladys Whately; stepfather, L.G. Agard; brothers, Jerry H. and Jimmy A. Burkett; son, Paul J. Burkett; and grandson, Travis A. Corbin.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Pauline; son, Eric, and wife, Paeton Burkett; stepdaughter, Michelle and husband, Alan Corbin; stepdaughter, Rachel Ory; grandchildren, Tyler and Delaney Burkett, Ethan and Ashton Tillman, Caroline Corbin, Kelsey McGinn; stepsister, Paula Jolly Antullis; nieces and nephews, Lee, Jonathan, and Nathan Burkett, Janet Batchelor, Kimberly Knight; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

A Funeral Mass for John will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 14, 2023, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 507 S. 4th St., Richmond, TX 77469. A reception will follow at Sacred Heart.  John will be Interred at Davis Greenlawn, 3900 B F Terry Blvd, Rosenberg, TX 77471.

In remembrance of John, those wishing to make donations may do so to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Camp Hope, or St. Jude’s Children's Hospital.
 

Charitable Donations may be made to:

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Website Link

Camp Hope
9724 Derrington Rd , Houston, 77064. Website Link

St. Jude Children Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Pl, Memphis, TX 38105. Website Link

Tributes

Message from
Laura Mays-Perryman
Tue, 01/10/2023

Thank you so much for all the wisdom, knowledge and kindness that you showed me while working for you on the police department. I pray for peace for the Pauline, family and friends.