Don Burt – A Memory Never To Be Forgotten

by Devan Beitel on July 6, 2008

Don Burt

Scouting Family,

I was notified this morning that Don Burt passed away last night; July 4, 2008 in Texas.

Four years ago Don moved from Florence, Alabama to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to be closer to his daughter and family. He transferred his Scouting and OA membership to the Lodge that would end up beating us for the national title in dodge ball at the last NOAC. Ever dependable, Don continued to visit us here twice a year attending Coosa Fall and Spring Fellowships!

At eighteen Don was serving our country in Germany firing a machine gun in World War II. He was present as the Nazi regime fell. Don was active in Scouting and Church right to the end.

As most engineers, Don was a direct talking man. If he disagreed with you he would let you know right up front. Don was a practical man. He was the guy to call to get water at camp fixed. He was present when the OA Lodge at Camp Westmoreland was built; he was there when the councils combined. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was elected to membership in Unami Lodge One.

When I was elected to the Order Don was Menawa Chapter Adviser of the Kaskanampo Lodge 310. Don, I and many other Scouts have driven thousands of miles, spent hundreds of hours traveling to countless Ordeals, Fellowships, NOAC’s, elections, camp promotions, meetings, as well as paddled many a mile on the creeks and rivers of Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

Don, set the example for every young man who met him during his time in Scouting. He outlasted many a Scout Executive all while encouraging at least 4 young men and one woman (his own daughter) to become Scout Executives themselves. He simply believed in the Scouting program and lived up to the Scout Oath and Law to it’s fullest. Don told me a long time ago that if you believe Scouting is a worthy youth program, don’t let anyone spoil it for you–and Boy will they try! It is up to you to keep your Scouting spirit alive and not allow others to extinguish it.

Don and his wife Doris came to the South on their great adventure to raise a family and work for Reynolds Metals. A youth myself at the time, I can remember fascinating tales about his adventures as a youth at Treasure Island Scout Camp. He brought with him that Yankee accent and he could make me mad quicker than anyone by delightfully singing his own rendition of “Sherman’s March to the Sea.” (A song about the defeat of the South and ransacking of Atlanta.)

Three years ago at Camp Sequoyah at Coosa’s first-ever America Indian Seminar we had a small Coosa Shows crew working on a project called iSash. We knew that we wanted many short video clips of Scouts doing things like ceremonies, fire building, Indian dancing, drumming, weed eating, hammering and any other activity that could be captured in our makeshift camp-office studio.

People that wandered through that camp office that weekend must have thought we had lost their minds. Then, just before we stopped for lunch that day, Don stuck his head in the door. He saw me for the first time all weekend and asked without hesitation, “What are you doing in this dark building all weekend when there’s a world of activity outside?”

For an instant I was fifteen years old again. I had flashbacks of his sometimes not-so-subtle suggestions to reconsider your actions and perhaps reevaluate what you are doing. I knew that if he was thinking this so were others.
Don was being Don: a very direct and pragmatic man. So rather then explain what we were doing, we decided to show him. We gave him the concept of the project, even though we didn’t know exactly what the end result would be. It didn’t take much to get Don to come on in. Several 1000-watt lights glared off the bright Kermit-the-frog-green canvas we were using as a backdrop.

There were at least two or three past lodge chiefs and current Lodge and Chapter officers helping at that time. We showed him the setup, told him the idea, then convinced him to stand in front of the camera, raise his Scout sign and repeat the Scout Oath. Don never blinked. He did great! In just a few frames we captured what everyone in the room knew was an insightful glimpse at the spirit of a remarkable man. Don is the only adult that appears in the iSash video which would debut in front of thousands of Arrowmen later that year at the closing show of NOAC.

Though my heart is saddened that I will not see Don again, I am grateful that he was a part of my life and he never allowed the small-minded to shorten his involvement in Scouting. He is truly a part of “America’s Greatest Generation”.
One of Don’s last requests was that there be a Scouting representation at his funeral and celebration of life! Don’s family is now making arrangements for his internment here in “his hometown” of Florence, Alabama beside his beloved wife. It appears that the service will be Friday, July 11, 2008 at the First United Methodist Church, Florence, Alabama.

Yours in the Brotherhood of Scouting,
Tim Hall

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