John Burbank

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - John "Jack" Burbank of Middlebury, Vt., formerly of Middletown, Conn., died on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Jack was 95 years old. He leaves behind many friends, family, and acquaintances, in Vermont, in Connecticut, across the United States, and around the world.

Jack was born in Lynn, Mass. 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 of 24.

Jack married Helen West, of Trenton, N.J., and a graduate of Middlebury College, in 1943. They moved to Hartford, where Jack completed his residency in radiology. Jack worked briefly in New Hampshire, then became a radiologist at Meriden Hospital. 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 of 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, taking his final cross-country ski 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 in both Connecticut and Vermont with great energy and persistence, and his gardens produced tomatoes, squash, beans, peas, parsnips, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, lettuce, corn, and berries, not to mention rocks and 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! He was a very generous supporter of Middlebury College. 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, 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, Vt.; Doug and Rachel Burbank of Santa Barbara, Calif; 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 http://tinyurl.com/kvx53bc.
Published in The Record-Journal on June 29, 2014
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