Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Buford "Bobby" Burnette 1931-2001

Buford was born on December 8, 1931 to John Edward & Tressie Goad Burnette.  His name changed pretty quickly when a neighbor's child started calling him "Bobby".  (Years later, the family realized that the neighbor was just trying to say "baby"!)

What a happy little baby!

Bobby is the one with his hand crammed in his mouth.
He is being held by his Grandmother, Iowa Moles Goad.
Bobby was the second child born to John & Tressie.  He was a happy child even though he was very sickly throughout his entire childhood.  He was a bit of a devil-may-care child always doing crazy things like sneaking around and riding a bull on the farm and walking on the support structure of bridges.

Daddy and his older brother, Lindell
Bobby met his future wife, Vera Vaughn, while working at United Elastic in Stuart, Virginia.  They married in 1952.  They only had one child, born in 1964.  Me!
Bobby & Vera Vaughn Burnette
Bobby was in a terrible car accident in 1966 that almost took his life. He was always a bit of a hot-rodder, but his time it very well may have been something else that caused his accident. He remembered nothing of the accident which is really not that unusual.  However, he does not remember anything that happened earlier that day or even where he had gone.  The doctors thought that was the beginning of an illness that would ultimately be diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis.

Daddy with his pink & black Mercury
By the time I was in school, Bobby was having problems with his vision and walking.  It wasn't long until he had to surrender his driver's license because he was declared legally blind.  Over the years, Daddy did not give up fighting against his MS.  He had the type of MS that would go into remission.  Then the MS would flare up and he would have long hospital stays for treatments.   Just after each treatment, he would always get much worse, but then he would slowly get a bit better. By the time I was about 10 years old, Daddy always had to walk with a cane.  Sometimes, he even had to use two canes to keep his balance.  

Me & Daddy (and Tiger too!)
Though he struggled with his health my whole life, he was always there for me and willing to help me in any way possible.  He always encouraged me to make my own decisions and he would very seldom ever come right out and tell me what he would do in any given situation.  He said that I had to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes.  My dad became a widower in 1980 when mom was killed in a car accident.

Bobby & Vera
The last years of my dad's life were very sad.  His mother, Tressie, died in February 2001. (His father, John, died in 1981.)  Even though she was 97, she looked after her son up until the last year of her life.  He missed her terribly.  Also, the Commonwealth of Virginia took my dad's house for the improvements being made to Route 58.  Even though he just had to move across the road to his childhood home, it was a very difficult move for him because he was just about totally blind and could not get used to everything in the house.  I went to visit him about a month after he moved into Grandma's house and he whispered to me, "Just WHO is it that is living upstairs?  I have been sneaking around trying to be quiet so that I do not disturb them."  At first, I thought that he was joking, but he was serious.  There was no one living upstairs, but the move had really confused him.  (For the record, Virginia has STILL not made the improvements to that section of Rt 58.  There was no need for them to have taken his home when they did.  I get very angry when I think about the whole situation.)

Shortly after that happened, he became seriously ill and I found him lying on the floor, incoherent. After a hospital stay, he had to go to a nursing home for rehab, but I could tell that he had finally given up and he would not even try to work with the physical therapist.  On a visit to see him in the nursing home, I found him in a horrible condition and I demanded that he be taken to the hospital immediately.  They acted all surprised and wanted to know why.  I will spare the details, but when I got him to the hospital, they said that if he had not been admitted that night, that he would have been dead before morning.

After 28 days in ICU, he was finally able to be moved to a private room.  Thanks to insurance companies and their inhumane policies, they had to discharge him and he still needed lots of care.  So, he was admitted to another nursing home here in Roanoke where I could keep a close eye on him.  His health steadily declined and he passed away after just a couple of weeks.  I knew the end was near the night that I visited him and he was asking me about relatives who had already died.  He was also having conversations with them and reaching into the air like he was trying to take someone's hand.

He died later that night, November 15, 2001.

Grandma, me, & Daddy 1993


  1. You are a perfect blending of your mom and dad...wow. I love seeing your old photos!

  2. Kim, I love reading stories like these although this had a sad ending. First I am so sorry that you lost your mother and father before you should have. I am also sad that his last days were not so happy. But he was very lucky to have a daughter who cared so much. So many older do not have even that. Anyway keep up the writing. I enjoy it very much!

  3. Yeah, when you look at a photo of my mom & dad and then look at me, there is really no doubt about who my parents are! :)

    Thank you for your compliments, Tina. I do like to post fun things on the blog, but, since I do not have any children with whom I can share stories and traditions with, I also like to post family stories and traditions, even though some of them are very sad. I feel very blessed to have been born into a kind and loving family. I may not have had a large quantity of years with them, but I sure did get some quality time with them!


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