Robert A. Burnett, Sr.
1929 – 2019
HOLYOKE: Robert A. “Bob” Burnett, Sr., beloved husband and father, formerly of Meadowview Road, Holyoke, MA passed away peacefully at Day Brook Village Nursing Center on Monday February 25, 2019. Robert was born on April 1, 1929 in Goshen, New York to Joseph Barber Burnett and Helen Lydia (Boyce) Burnett. He was the youngest of three, joining his brother and sister, Russell and Shirley, in the fieldstone house their stonemason father built at 25 Wickham Avenue. Robert grew up in Goshen and graduated from John J. Hooker High School. He distinguished himself in track and field while at school, but moreover, he developed a keen interest in music. By the age of 14 he was a talented trombonist. Although he played a variety of musical genres, Robert became a lifelong jazz trombone enthusiast. After graduating high school, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1948 and served for 4 years, including two tours of duty in Korea: 1950 - 1951 and 1951 – 1952. He received an honorable discharge as a Musician Second Class Petty Officer. Prior to his tours of duty in Korea, Robert met his future wife, June Powers Harkleroad of Bristol, TN while he attended the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C. They married and returned to Goshen, NY in February of 1952 after his discharge from the Navy. Robert and June raised their two children while residing in Goshen for 35 years. They relocated to Holyoke, MA after Robert accepted a job there in 1987. Robert was an accomplished Jazz composer and performer who made the acquaintance of Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Count Basie, and others. He taught music and trombone privately for several years, played in a number of bands, including Sal DeFeo’s 12 Piece Orchestra, and was a past member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 809- Middletown, NY. In addition to his music career, Robert worked in the graphic arts, specifically the fields of photoengraving and lithography from 1952 until his retirement in 1991. He started out as a lithostripper, printer, and etcher for Middletown Photo Engraving of Middletown, NY and ended up as General Manager for various companies. His employers included Fairmount Chemical Company of Newark, NJ from 1967 to 1985 and Cookson Graphics in Holyoke from 1985 to 1991. Robert did a fair amount of traveling for business, but he also had the opportunity to travel for pleasure. Destinations included numerous locations in the U.S. and Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Austria. His family often accompanied him on many of these memorable trips. Robert was predeceased by his brother, Russell Burnett; a son, Robert A. Burnett, Jr.; wife June P. Burnett; and sister, Shirley McGrath. He is remembered with love by Jay Burnett Fox and June Fox of Wisconsin, and Clesson S. Bush and Jean Bush of New York. Caregivers, neighbors, and friends at Day Brook Village and JP’s Restaurant in Holyoke also remember him fondly. The Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home in Holyoke, MA is handling funeral arrangements in conjunction with Donavan Funeral Home in Goshen, NY. Services are private and at the convenience of the family with burial in the Slate Hill Cemetery in Goshen, NY. In lieu of flowers, please contribute in Robert’s memory to the Veterans organization of your choice.