Rand Burnette was born in Evansville, Indiana, to Mary Francis (Wurtz) Rea and Charles Dent Burnette. Here he met his eventual wife of 61 years, Patricia Bauer (Burnette). He majored in history at Wabash College while she majored in English at MacMurray College. They married after graduation on June 14, 1958. He received a master's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University.
After teaching at Carthage College (first on its Illinois campus and then in Wisconsin) Rand took a position in 1968 teaching history at MacMurray College, where he remained on the faculty until retirement. He taught a wide range of history courses and had a special interest in the Reformation, animation history and cartography. He taught generations of students American and European history and served as MacMurray's pre-law adviser for many years, helping students gain admission to some of the best law programs in the country. At MacMurray he was known for his deep scholarly knowledge, his sense of humor, his articulate (and always audible) lectures, and his love of noon-time basketball pick-up games.
Rand was a member of many organizations, including Rotary, Morgan County Historical Society, Illinois State Historical Society, Literary Union, and the NAACP. He attended Faith Lutheran Church since first moving to Jacksonville in 1968 and served as president of the congregation, among several other roles there. He remained an active member of the Jacksonville community until his death.
Rand continued to pursue his academic interests after retirement, reading academic publications (especially in cartography), publishing numerous book reviews in scholarly journals, and helping his wife, Patricia, complete a book on MacMurray founder James F. Jaquess. He was a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction and a loyal fan of the Chicago Cubs.
Rand is survived by his wife, Patricia B. Burnette; three children, Patrick R. Burnette (Joyce), Catherine M. Burnette and Mark W. Burnette (Kim); two grandchildren, Rand Ralph Burnette and Ryan K. Burnette; three stepgrandchildren, Kenny Robinson (Crystal), Keith Robinson and Kristen Moore (Douglas); three great-stepgrandchildren, Brian, Landon and Jackson; and two brothers, Charles Burnette (Carol) and Johnny Rea (Mardi). His third brother, Jack Burnette (Gayle), predeceased him.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Faith Lutheran Church in Jacksonville. The family will meet friends from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, prior to the service, at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Faith Lutheran Church of Jacksonville, Illinois. Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville is assisting the family. Condolences may be left at buchanancody.com.