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 Eva’s mother’s farm on Maple Street in West Wenham
where they converted the barn into the family auto repair business,
Burnett’s Wenham Street Garage, which is still in operation today under
the management of Bob’s brother Don and Don’s 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 Joanne’s 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
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 Community’s 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
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