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James Leroy Burnett
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Birth: Mar. 5, 1919
Neelys Landing
Cape Girardeau County
Missouri, USA
Death: Jul. 21, 2009
Miles City
Custer County
Montana, USA

James Leroy Burnett

Family to receive friends: Saturday, July 25, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home in Miles City

Graveside Service: Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 12:00 p.m. noon at the Eastern Montana State Veteran's Cemetery with full military honors.

James Leroy Burnett ("Big Jim, Grandpa Jim") age 90, left this world on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, to join family and friends that have gone before. He was residing at the VA Community Living Center at the time of his death, ever hopeful of getting well enough to return home to Tootie, his wife of 65 years.

Jim was born to Harvey Leroy Burnett and Jessie Marie Litzenfeller Burnett on March 5, 1919 in Neeleys Landing, Missouri. He lived and completed school in Chaffee, Missouri, surrounded by brothers Joe, Jack, Bob and John and sisters Betty, Mary and Caroline. He was a football and baseball athlete. Times were hard and finances tight so Jim worked as a sales clerk at Kroger's Grocery Store throughout his teen years, wearing his white shirt, tie and polished black shoes—a trademark look that he would also be known for in later years. He always made sure that all his younger siblings had money for the weekly matinees.

After high school, plans to attend mortuary school were permanently put on hold as World War II and the US Army beckoned him in 1940. Jim served as a squad leader and sergeant of the guard with the rifle infantry and reached the rank of sergeant. He was scheduled for deployment to the States to attend Officer's Candidate School but was seriously injured in a troop train transport in Alaska in October of 1942. His injuries were such that he required three years of hospitalization and several surgeries, at one time being told that he would never walk again. Jim defied the odds, vowing to never be in a wheelchair again, a promise he kept to himself until recent illness and debilitation again robbed him of his mobility. His wounds resulted in numerous physical limitations and a chronic characteristic limp but never once was he heard to complain or feel sorry for himself.

While Jim was hospitalized at the Bushnell Army Hospital in Brigham City, Utah, he became close friends with his hospital roommate, Duncan "Duff" McDonald from Miles City MT. Duff's sister, Catherine Ann (Tootie) McDonald came to Utah to visit her brother; after meeting his handsome Missouri roommate; her visit was permanently extended Jim and Tootie were married in the hospital chapel on June 3, 1944 on a weekend pass from the hospital, returning that Monday for additional surgery and placement in a body cast.

After separation from the military in 1945, Jim and his new bride returned to live in St Louis, Missouri where Jim worked as a salesman for the Site Automotive Company. During this time a frequent visitor from Montana was Robert "Potts" McDonald, the second McDonald brother to become a life-long, close friend.

In 1951, Jim and Catherine moved to her hometown of Miles City MT. Jim fell in love with Montana and Miles City where he resided for the remainder of his life. Over the years, he returned as often as possible to his beloved Missouri for visits with family and friends –and to take in a St Louis Cardinals baseball game, even attending a World Series.

Once in Montana, Jim would help father-in-law, Duncan "Big Dunc" McDonald, Donald "Uncle Donald" McDonald , and the third McDonald brother, Donald "Babe" McDonald in various work related to the sheep they raised, docked, sheared, lambed and shipped. Jim was warmly embraced and welcomed into the McDonald Clan and readily accepted as "one of their own".

In 1951, Jim went to work for James Kenney, forming a partnership with Wayne Olson and Dave Parent in the operation and management of the historic Montana Bar in Miles City. The Montana Bar soon became the meeting place for all Scots, for entertainment and business purposes. The trademark starched white shirt, tie and polished black shoes again became Jim's attire.

This alliance lasted until Jim's retirement in 1977 at which time he was awarded a 100% service connected disability for his wartime injuries. After retirement, he continued to enjoy gardening, fishing and pheasant hunting until progressive arthritis limited his mobility. A favorite companion for his fishing and hunting excursions was close friend Colin Murray. Those also included through the years were Sam Moss, Bud Holter, Harry Griffith and son-in-law, Kenny Boschee to name a few.

He was a member of the Eagles, DAV and VFW and past member of the Miles City Caledonian Society where he donated countless hours of bartending to the monthly gatherings of the club.

Always the impeccable Southern gentleman, Jim was often thought of as the ‘kindest and gentlest man". His positive outlook and sense of humor were classic as were his wry responses of "you bet" and "whatever"; he held on to these traits until he took his last breath. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. Family was everything to Jim and no sacrifice was too great to insure that his family had what they needed and wanted. He was a steadfast friend, generous host, and solid Democrat. He treated all that he met with fairness, kindness, respect and congeniality.

Jim is survived by wife Catherine (Tootie), son, James Duncan, and daughters Ava Kay (Kenny) Boschee and Jodie Ann Rhodes; grandsons Kevin James Boschee and Colin James Rhodes; granddaughter Catherine Ann "Catey" Rhodes and great-granddaughter Mackenzie Rose "MackieDoo" Boschee. He is also survived by sister, Betty (Phil) Kennedy, brother-in-law Donald "Babe" (Carol) McDonald, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins from his Montana and Missouri families.

He is predeceased by his parents Harvey and Jessie Burnett, father and mother-in-law Duncan and Ava McDonald, brothers Joe, Jack, Bob and John; sisters Caroline and Mary; brothers-in-law, Duncan "Duff" McDonald and Robert "Potts" McDonald.

Cremation has occurred. Visitation with family and friends will be from 10 AM to 12 noon on Saturday, July 25th, to be followed by gravesides services at the Eastern Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Noon. A Luncheon/reception at the VFW will immediately follow services. Casual dress is encouraged—Jim would want it this way—no starched shirts, ties or polished black shoes.

Honorary pallbearers are: Donald "Babe" McDonald, Duncan "Little Dunc" McDonald, Colin McDonald, Kenny McDonald, Scott McDonald, Craig McDonald, Kyle McDonald, Rob McDonald, Curt Kountz, Neal Paxson, Glenn Hageman, Bob Yarger, Bill Woolston, Karl Muri, Jimmy Burnett, Kenny Boschee, Colin Rhodes and Kevin Boschee.

In lieu of flowers, (Jim's request) memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church or the VA Community Living Center in Miles City.
Family links: 
  Catherine M McDonald Burnett (1923 - 2011)*
*Calculated relationship
Eastern Montana State Veterans Cemetery
Miles City
Custer County
Montana, USA
Created by: Catherine Byron
Record added: Jul 24, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39816449
James Leroy Burnett
Added by: Anonymous
James Leroy Burnett
Added by: With Love, Caprice
James Leroy Burnett
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Jim Olson
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Rest peacefully.
- Penny Jo
 Added: May. 24, 2012
Thank you for your service.
- Penny Jo
 Added: May. 24, 2012

- Karen Griswold Stroh
 Added: Oct. 8, 2011
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