Toni and Burl’s three daughters extend our deepest thanks to Peggy Timm, Nathan Berryman, and Jim Fricker for sharing your time and care with us and with Burl during his last days.
My dad lived a rich and colorful life. As a young man, he served in the Navy. He had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, starting in his twenties with his convenience store, Burl’s Rip-Off (he forgot to put “weed” on the sign, although I’m pretty sure that was a significant source of revenue). Later in life he ran his electronics services business, ESC. For most of his working life, he was an Electronics Wizard, traveling around Montana installing and repairing fire alarm systems and entertaining everyone along the way. He was a wonderful Dad, husband, grandfather and friend.
Burl could fix anything mechanical. He had a complex of garages comprising more square footage than his house. Everything he touched ended up in great working order, with the added bonus of resembling an illustration from a Dr. Suess book. He loved to buy and sell cars. His friend Tommy Kimmel teased that he was like a middle eastern rug merchant with his constant vehicle deals. My sisters and I shared our first car, a tiny Honda Civic he acquired for $75 and “Fixed Up” for us. In Burl’s world, this meant that the driver’s seat was propped up with a broomstick, the horn honked when you turned left, cassette tapes in the car stereo sped up when the car accelerated, and there was a special button on the steering column which you had to push while turning the key to start the car. The car ran like a top, and everyone at Capital High School knew when the Streets girls were arriving.
Burl SHOWED UP for the people he loved. He advocated and cared for both of his parents at the end of their lives. He took our 90 year old spinster great aunt Julia grocery shopping every Saturday for at least five years, and when she got to the end of her life, he was her caregiver and representative. He did the same thing with his brother Wayne who died last year. He cared for and ceaselessly loved his wife Toni, his chosen son Guy Root, his family, and his friends. When our mom Karen got sick and was so afraid, I will never forget him climbing into the hospital bed with her, putting his arms around her, and telling her he would never leave her. And he didn’t.
We can’t talk about Burl without mentioning his sense of humor. The night he died, we had a family dinner at his home with him in the next room in the hospice bed. We were talking about life expectancy, and somebody googled and found that in the US it’s age 78, and in Canada Age 80. Burl’s 15-year old grandson, Henry, piped up and said “When I turn 78 I’m moving to Canada.” It is comforting to know that Burl heard this and our laughter in his last moments, leaving the world in the only way he would want – with the people he loved most around him, laughing and loving one another.
Burl was witty, talented, loyal, and sometimes painfully authentic. Politically correct, he was not. He moved through the world unapologetically regaling it with his unique brand of humor. If you knew Burl for any length of time, you know what I mean. Here and now, I extend his apology if he unwittingly offended you, and I assure you that his intention was always to entertain and delight.
Burl was very clear about his end of life wishes. He filled out a form detailing “What I Want My Loved Ones to Know”. The final question was “If anyone asks how I want to be remembered, please say the following about me”. His response was: I tried my best to be a good person.
Dad, you were more than a good person. You were a fucking spectacular person. Casey, Britt and I are honored to be your daughters, and our hearts burst with pride when we think of the person you were and the life you lived. Thank you dad. We love you.