John Corbin Burnett, Sr., 85, of Grand Saline, went to be with our Lord on January 19, 2021. He was born June 21, 1935, in Spokane, Washington, to Theo Corbin (Bert) Burnett and Ruby Cleo Blessing Burnett. His family returned to their Texas roots when he was young, but not before he was crowned “Baby Spokane”—something he was teased about his entire life. John never met a stranger, and he was a natural salesman. When he heard that Babe Ruth was staying in the same hotel as his family, he and his brother were able to talk a hotel steward into divulging The Babe’s room number. They patiently camped out in front of his door—knowing he would eventually have to come out—and when he did, they got to meet The Babe. John loved all sports, and he participated in competitive swimming, played semi-pro football, fought a professional fight, and loved fishing and being on the water. After proudly serving in the Navy during the Korean War, he attended SMU where he majored in banking and finance. His love of people led to his interest to serve them, and he served in a variety of leadership capacities over the years. John served as a committee member for the Texas Real Estate Association, as president of the White Rock East Exchange Club, and while he was ultimately unable to serve due to work conflicts, he was elected to the Texas Legislature as a State Representative for Dallas. He was friends with many well-known public figures, and was a guest at the Dallas Trade Mart luncheon where President Kennedy was to be honored the day he was killed. Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, John worked as a custom home builder and later as a custom pool builder after moving from Dallas to Rockwall and later to Grand Saline. He helped transform Rockwall’s public schools as a long-term school board member during a time of rapid growth in the area. In his later years, one of John’s biggest acts of service was in caring for his beloved wife, Mary Nell, as she battled both cancer and blindness for over 10 years. John will be remembered as someone who was selfless in his giving. Although he suffered from Lewy body dementia the last few years of his life, John’s love for his family sustained him, and he took great enjoyment in spending time with family watching his beloved Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Mavericks.
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John was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Mary Nell Drew Burnett, and his brother, the Hon. Joe Bill Burnett. He is survived by his five children and their spouses: Debbie and Kerry Kindle of Grand Saline, Kathy and Keith Baker of Grand Saline, John, Jr. and Gretchen Burnett of Cedar Creek Lake, Beth and Steve Bergeron of Cedar Park, and Robert and Julie Burnett of Magnolia. He is also survived by twelve grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Due to Covid-19 concerns, a private graveside service will be held for the family in coming weeks at Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to: Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc., 912 Killian Hill Road S.W., Lilburn, GA 30047. https://www.lbda.org