William Jackson "Jack" Burgett

Thursday, March 14, 2013

San Jose, CA

William Jackson "Jack" Burgett of San Jose, Calif., peacefully passed from this life on January 18, 2013, at the age of 87. He was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, to William "Bill" and Anne Giles Burgett. They moved to the Black Water Community in 1937.

Jack had believed he would follow his brother Neal and his sister Lorene who had graduated from Black Water High School. However, his senior year changed with the coming of World War II. He graduated from Manila High School with the class of 1943. Jack then served in World War II and the Korean War. He had been promoted to First Lieutenant before his retirement. Jack then worked in the grocery business in San Jose, CA, for forty years.

Jack attended Southern Baptist College and served as principal of the Shady Grove School. He and Wandara and daughter, Jan, lived in the teacherage at Shady Grove. Wandara was teaching at her home school at Black Water. Jack describes how he felt about Black Water in his article -- My Kind of School.

My Kind of School

By Jack Burgett

"I vividly remember my first day at Black Water School. When the ice began to melt and the water began to recede, we moved from Manila to Black Water during the food of 1937. School was still closed, for a lot of the families had moved to higher ground and had not yet returned to their homes.

The day finally came when school reopened. There I stood around the wood burning stove, with many strangers, waiting for the bell to ring. I knew only a handful of people -- James Crafton, Carl Castleman, Roy Maples, and, of course Mr. Spurlock. The bell rang, and there I stood waiting to get a desk. About two minutes after the bell rang, Mr. Spurlock gently lifted my cap and said, "We don't wear our caps in class." Boy, was I embarrassed!

I hit it off pretty quick with the fifth and sixth grade girls. (By the way, I was in the sixth grade.) I had a celluloid ring that I had gotten out of a box of Cracker Jacks, and all of the girls were wild to wear it. We passed it around so much that I think it melted.

I fell in love with Black Water immediately; it was my kind of school. The kids were friendly and helpful, and the teachers couldn't be beat. Speaking of beat, I got my share of those beatings. We were just one big happy family at Black Water; everyone helped everyone else.

I'll never forget the good times we had going to the ball games, ping pong tournaments, trips to Memphis, and trips to see plays and movies, and, of course, the many good 4-H Club Rallies. Those were Depression years; no one had any money, but who cared? Everyone was in the same boat. These were truthfully the most happy years of my life.

Omer Spurlock, along with the good Sikes sisters, taught us many things. Three that I remember above all others in this order -- God, family, country. And you know something, I have taught our three children the same things -- in the same order of importance.

It grieved me a lot when the war came and forced us to move our high school to Manila. I had to finish my senior year there. Manila kids recognized us as "the kids from Black Water." They never trifled with us; we got right in there and did our share.

I met my beloved wife Wandara at Black Water. She was in the fifth grade when we moved there. Our courtship didn't start until I was a senior and she was a junior. We have three wonderful children, Jan, the oldest, is now a homemaker, but she has been a dental assistant and has taught special education classes. Tanya, our second child, is a fourth grade teacher at Payne School where she had attended fourth grade in the same room. This is also the same school where her mother had taught 31 years. Todd, the youngest, is the youth minister at one of our local churches here in San Jose.

As I look back, it will always be with the fondest memories. Black water was a great place to grow up. I always cherish the reunions we have because we get to visit with all the wonderful people."

Besides his parents, Jack was preceded in death by his loving wife Wandara of 54 years, his brother Neal Burgett, his sister Lorene Graggs, his son-in-law Will Vriend, and his brothers-in-law, Charles Caery, Kenneth Caery, Walt Caery, Jr., Carl Castleman and Guy Whitney, Sr.

Jack is survived by his second wife Ginna, his daughters, Jan Vriend and Tanya Cater and her husband, Dan; his son Todd and his wife, Lisa; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Jack's son the Rev. Todd Burgett officiated at his funeral on Jan. 24, 2013, at 11 a.m. at the Bethel Church in San Jose, CA. His daughter Tanya and Todd gave beautiful eulogies. Teylor Cater provided background music for the video of Jack's life. She sang in Italian "Pious Jesus," in English and Spanish "Via Dolorosa," and Amazing Grace." During the service Rod Friesen sang "The Anchor Holds," and John Ferrante sang "How Great Thou Art."

Graveside services followed with full military rites at the Los Gatos Memorial Park.

The pallbearers were as follows: Caery Vriend, Chad Vriend, Gaylon Burgett, Barry Burgett, Lee Caery, Dan Cater, Johnny VanWyk and Michael Barker.