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Robert Norman Burnett

Robert Norman Burnett, 90, of Maple Street, died Tuesday, January 26, 2021 in his Wenham home.

Born in Brooklyn, NY on October 18, 1930, he was the son of the late Robert M. and Eva (Cummings) Burnett. In 1943 at the age of twelve, with his family he came to settle in Wenham. His parents moved onto Evaís motherís farm on Maple Street in West Wenham where they converted the barn into the family auto repair business, Burnettís Wenham Street Garage, which is still in operation today under the management of Bobís brother Don and Donís son David.

Bob was a graduate of the Beverly Trade School, where he learned the carpentry trade. After a short time employed by local building contractors in the post World War II housing boom, Bob went into business for himself as Burnett Construction, starting off building three new homes, one for an uncle and aunt, a second for himself and his first wife Joanne, and a third for Joanneís parents. The quality of his construction work won him new clients henceforth and Burnett Construction became his life work, operating on a small but successful scale from his headquarters on the family property. In later years he became interested in energy efficient housing and designed and built several leading edge homes of this sort, which later led to consulting in this emerging energy conservation field.

Upon inheriting much of the acreage of the family property on Maple Street, Bob established a Christmas Tree Farm and rented land to a hydroponic wetland plant cultivator adjacent to the wetland area. His growing interest in land preservation led to several terms on the Wenham Conservation Commission. Shortly before his death he had completed arrangements for Harborlight Communityís Maple Woods subdivision to be built on a portion of his property.

     A second major interest in his life was the sport of motorcycling. Two years in the Air Force stationed in Texas introduced him to motorcycle riding and upon returning to Wenham, he began participating in regional New England motorcycle competition, moving up through his aggressive and skillful riding from local amateur events to winning a 1958 New England Scrambles Championship, then on to International level, with a 2nd place finish in a 1961 International road race at Daytona Beach capping his racing career. After retiring from racing, he never lost his enthusiasm and continued to ride motorcycles on the road for the rest of his life.

Bob is survived by a son, Bretley R. Burnett and his wife Jackie of Wenham; a granddaughter, Nicole Bushong of CT; two great grandchildren, Ruby and Vivian Bushong; a brother, Donald Burnett of Wenham; a niece, Susan Burnett and two nephews, David and Donald Burnett.

A private funeral service will be held graveside in the Wenham Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.


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