Gary Burtchaell(1941 - 2012)

Gary Burtchaell October 23, 1941 - October 20, 2012 On October 20, 2012, an amazing and wonderful man passed peacefully into heaven surrounded by his family. Gary Edward Burtchaell was born October 23, 1941 in Berkeley, California to loving parents Edward and Jane Burtchaell. Gary attended both East Bakersfield and Burlingame High School where he was a standout student, swimmer and quarterback. After graduation, he journeyed to Colorado where he followed his father's footsteps in the oil business by earning his Petroleum Engineering degree and the coveted Sterling Silver Diploma from the Colorado School of Mines. While at Mines, Gary enrolled in ROTC and after a 1-year stint with Pure Oil Company, he proudly volunteered for the armed forces and served as a Green Beret during two years in Vietnam. Gary was awarded the Bronze Star and achieved the rank of Captain before returning home in 1968. After completing his military service, Gary set off on a 30+ year career in the oil business by joining UNOCAL. His time with UNOCAL included stops in Santa Fe Springs, Ventura and Anchorage and ever increasing assignments in both on-shore and off-shore oil operations. While working for UNOCAL, he continued his education earning a Master's in Petroleum Engineering from USC and a Master's in Engineering Management from the University of Alaska. In 1980, Gary joined Occidental Petroleum and set off to further his oil career with important foreign assignments in Peru and Pakistan; and finally back home to Bakersfield in 1991 until his retirement from Oxy in 1999. In Bakersfield while managing engineering operations for Oxy's Far East/Asia locations, Gary was able to resume contact with many friends and family. Gary's relationship with his father Edward was especially rewarding during these days as discussions about the oil business would span 50 years, several continents and various engineering concepts and formulas. While Gary's own expertise as a petroleum engineer were often lauded by his colleagues, when asked who the better petroleum engineer was Gary would always comment that "Dad was the best he ever saw". A typical Gary trait to look beyond himself and to praise others; little did he know that Dad said the same of Gary when asked the same question. For those that knew Gary well, discussions about his college days at Mines, his military service in Vietnam and then his important and senior level assignments at UNOCAL and Oxy were few and far between as Gary always was "in the moment"; and that meant whomever and whatever was now and not what had been. His accomplishments were just that - in the past - and living today and mingling with friends and family were most important, a trait that distinguished and endeared Gary to all others. Family and friends was the most important thing to Gary. He cherished his retirement years and always wanted his friends and loved ones around him. He is survived by his beautiful, loving wife of 30 years Cristina, four daughters Susan, Debbie, Julie and Ashley, as well as son-in-laws Jeff, George and Paul; five grandchildren Spencer, Carson, Angela, Lexi and Jake; his mother Jane Burtchaell, brother John and sister Barbara and her husband Dennis McCollough; plus nephews Brian, Kevin and Keith McCollough and Johnny and Blake Burtchaell. Aside from family, Gary's passions included golf, cards, simple food at a nondescript Bakersfield locale and a libation or two enjoying life with many of his friends from Stockdale Country Club. Gary will always be remembered as a kind, generous and simple man with a quick wit espousing all kinds of wisdom. Whether it was hosting a dinner party, your partner or opponent in a game of golf or bridge, or just relaxing in the back yard over today's cross word puzzle, Gary was always enjoying the moment and your company. Just the way he enjoyed and cherished the love of his life Cristina, his many immediate and extended family and so many friends and colleagues. His steady hand, cool calm, quick wit and boyish laugh will long be remembered and greatly missed. Viewing for family and friends will be at Greenlawn Mortuary on River Blvd from 12 to 4 pm on Sunday October 28th followed by a gravesite service on Monday October 29th at 10:45 am at the Bakersfield Veteran's National Cemetery at 30338 East Bear Mountain Blvd, Arvin, CA. A Celebration of Life will follow at the home of John Burtchaell hosted by the entire Burtchaell family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Gary's name to Christ the King church in Oildale. www.bakersfield.com/obits

Published in Bakersfield Californian on Oct. 26, 2012