John Burbank

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John "Jack" Burbank of Middlebury died on Tuesday at the Lodge at Otter Creek.

Jack was 95 years old. He had lived on Lake Dunmore in Leicester since 1992, and moved to the Lodge in 2008. He leaves behind many friends, family members, and acquaintances, in Vermont, across the United States, and around the world.

Jack was born in Lynn, Massachusetts. His mother, Ruth Burbank Pennell, taught high school English. His father was Alcott Pennell, an electrical engineer. Jack went to the Lynn public schools, and then graduated from Harvard at the age of 20. He graduated from Harvard Medical School at age 24.

Jack married Helen West, of Trenton, New Jersey, and a graduate of Middlebury College, in 1943. They moved to Hartford, Connecticut where Jack completed his residency in radiology. Jack worked briefly in New Hampshire, then became a radiologist at Meriden Hospital in Connecticut. He served stateside in the Air Force in Ohio during the Korean War, and returned in 1955 to Meriden, where he was the founding partner for Radiology Associates. He lived in Middletown and worked in Meriden, Wallingford, and Cheshire until his retirement in 1984.

Jack was an avid alpine and cross country skier, with his last time on skis at Breadloaf at the age of 91. He was an active member, worker, and supporter of the Green Mountain Club. He bicycled with other Silver Streakers in Vermont and Quebec. Up until the age of 79, he ran two miles almost every day, and followed that with a swim in Lake Dunmore.

He gardened with great energy and persistence, and his gardens produced tomatoes, squash, beans, peas, parsnips, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, lettuce, corn, and berries, not to mention the weeds he pulled every day. He kept Helen busy, canning and freezing vegetables. Jack did not like to rest until the sun set.

Jack was an avid traveler. For over 20 years, he made a yearly trip to Austria to ski. With Helen he visited China, Russia, England, France, Germany, Norway, Finland, and Africa. With his family, he camped across the United States and backpacked in the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascades.

He was a keen and opinionated observer of politics and supporter of the Democratic Party. He never held back his opinions! Until the very end of his life, he was an avid reader of history, geology, exploration, politics, and mountaineering. Jack also loved learning from people around him. Most importantly, he was kind and respectful to the people he met, the people who cared for him at the Lodge, and his family and friends.

Jack's qualities of observation, astuteness, persistence, discipline, hard work, and concern for and love of his family and friends are gifts he left for his children and grandchildren.

Jack was predeceased by his wife, Helen West Burbank, in 2008.

His survivors include his children and their spouses, Jane Burbank and Fred Cooper of New York City, Priscilla and Daryl Burbank-Schmitt of Leicester, Doug and Rachel Burbank of Santa Barbara, and John Burbank and Pam MacEwan of Seattle, as well as seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Jack got to meet and hold the youngest of these, Evan Lang, just a few weeks before his death. So life continues.

The family will be scheduling a memorial celebration for Jack within the next three months. Contributions in Jack's memory can be made to the Green Mountain Club, 4711 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., Waterbury Center, VT 05677 or at
Published in Rutland Herald on June 29, 2014
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