Kenneth (Ken) James Burgett, 83, died August 30, 2023, at home in Helena, MT.
He was born to John (Jack) and Natalie Burgett on August 13, 1940, in Bowbells, North Dakota. Jack, Natalie, Ken and younger sister, Joyanne, moved to East Helena and where Ken graduated from Helena High school in 1958.
Ken went on to attend Minot college to attain his bachelor’s degree in math and physics in 1962. Minot is where he met Joyce Lubbers, his future wife. On their first date, his carburetor caught on fire, and he had to beat out the flames with a pair of gloves before continuing the date. Ken taught high school math in Sitka, Alaska for a year while Joyce finished college. Joyce and Ken were married in Mandan, North Dakota, June 7, 1964. Following their wedding, they moved to Alaska together. Ken taught at Orion School on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska where he made lifelong friends. He went to graduate school to get his master’s degree in education at MSU in Bozeman so he could return to Anchorage to be the vice principal and eventually principal at the school where he taught. Shawna, Joyce and Ken’s first daughter, joined the family in 1967. In 1973 the family of three returned to Bozeman where Ken continued with graduate studies for his Doctor of Education in May of 1977. Jennifer was born to complete the family on 7-7-77 following his EdD degree. Ken took the position of principal of K through 12 schools in Meeteetse, Wyoming from 1978 to 1980. The family moved back to Helena in 1981 and Ken became a small business owner of two successful businesses and several rental properties. These businesses let him capitalize on his affinity to fix anything and everything. He could fix cars, build fences, pour concrete, put on a roof, reluctantly work on the plumbing and electrical systems of a house. He taught Jennifer and Shawna some of these skills and would say, “Well, it’s not rocket science,” and laugh.
Hunting and fishing were Ken’s lifelong passions. To say Ken was an avid fisherman and hunter would be a drastic understatement. He sought out adventurous locations and activities. While he was a teacher and a principal, summers were spent camping in the Kenai River Keys of Alaska fishing for king and red salmon. He climbed mountains to high elevations to fish for golden trout. He reeled in a marlin in Mexico while the rest of his family watched. Some of Ken’s favorite times were fishing on the Gallatin River, Fort Peck, and Hauser Lake for trout and walleye. He and his friend flew small creaky planes into the bush in Alaska before the time of cell phones to hunt for Dahl sheep and mountain goats. Moose and caribou hunts were part of the Alaska experience much to Joyce’s dismay. Elk hunts happened most years with groups of friends in Montana with an occasional horseback trip through the Bob Marshall. Sage hens, geese, ducks, and grouse were hunted so his black Labrador retrievers could get in on the fun as well. Yearly pheasant hunts to eastern Montana became a tradition with his nephew, Mark Lubbers. The hunting trips escalated abroad to a safari in Africa for Kudu, gemsbok, blesbok, wildebeest, and an unforgettable warthog.
Afternoon coffee with his friends became a time to plan for the next hunting and fishing adventure, recount past adventures, talk about their families, politics, work, money, and share their lives.
Ken was preceded in death by his father and mother, Jack and Natalie Burgett of Helena, Montana.
Ken is survived by his wife, Joyce (Lubbers) Burgett; sister Joyanne Bahnsen and brother-in-law Maurie Bahnsen of Helena; daughter Shawna Burgett of Arvada, Colorado; daughter Jennifer Burgett-Reeves and son-in-law Ben Reeves of Bozeman; grandchildren Derek and Kendra Graves and Silas, Clara, and Ella Reeves; numerous nieces and nephews; and best friend and hunting, fishing, and coffee buddy, John McKittrick.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2023, at 11:00 AM at First Lutheran Church with a reception to follow in the church fellowship hall.