- About Us
Kim BurninghamSeptember 14, 1936 ~ July 7, 2017 (age 80)
Today is a good time to start writing an obituary. The end may be approaching sooner than I thought. But more about that later.
To me, life has been idyllic: raised by caring parents in a small community, educated in neighborhood schools, preparing for then teaching in those same schools, discovering new love, marrying a remarkable soul mate, watching our two sons grow to amazing men, welcoming their wives and their children, pursuing a career in public service, and celebrating in the flowers of old age with that same soul mate walking shoulder to shoulder! What would I change? Little.
The details: I was born September 14, 1936 to Margie and Rulon Burningham, then brought from the hospital to my parents' home on Main Street in Bountiful, Utah. Three older brothers (Gary, Dee, and Rodney) already ruled the roost. Our sister Jeen on whom I doted was an “after-thought” who did not join the family until 14 years later. I frolicked in the waist-high snow, picked dandelions with Marjean in the nearby orchard, and played "round-the-chair" at Scout meetings.
Mrs. Duffin and a host of other remarkable teachers drilled and guided me at Stoker School, South Davis Junior High, Bountiful High, and Davis High where joining the debate team caught my attention. At the University of Utah, I dabbled in theatre, loved the oral interp classes taught by Marion Redd, and fell asleep in the library.
A college education was interrupted by a two year LDS mission in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi where I was appalled when I learned that the sign beside the water fountain that read "colored water" didn't mean the water came out in rainbow hues! I was a counselor to President M. Ross Richards whose pulpit-pounding oratory brought wide-eyed enthusiasm to congregants.
Later in life, I continued my education receiving two master’s degrees from the University of Arizona (where I was carefully tutored by the remarkable Alethea Mattingly) and the University of Southern California.
In 1960, I was nearing graduation from the U of U and as an education major I did student teaching at Bountiful High School with Myrintha Gill. Mrs. Gill’s influence was monumental and after that experience, I was asked to continue as a regular teacher at the school—where I continued for the next 29 years.
I loved teaching: speech, debate, theatre, English. Students like Robyn, Jerry, Bryan, Breck, Dawne, and hundreds more were a delight. We rehearsed for plays night and day, and traveled to debate tournaments on the weekend. Friendships were established that have continued to this day. One amusing highlight was when I discovered I was locked in my isolated classroom at the school for the weekend (only to later discover that gate wasn’t locked at all). Vot dat and chew!
Of course, one student was unusually special. In my second year of teaching, a bright sophomore enrolled in my Speech 1 class. Her first speech as I recall was an explanation of how to crack open a crab leg. She brought a model to demonstrate and left it on table of the back of the room until the day was over. The aroma grew rich: the whole room smelled like crab. Years later Susan became my wife. I always liked to startle people by telling them I dated her when she was a junior (which is true), but usually only explained much later that first date was when she was a junior in college. Susan has become my soul, my right arm, my stability, my eternal love. That important encounter alone would have made life worthwhile.
Susan and I were married in 1968. We always reflect amazingly on the miracle drive to the Salt Lake Temple when our car which was sliding on the snowy road seemed destined to collide with the truck in front of us. Somehow, unexplainable to us, we ended up on the other side of the truck without mishap.
Susan and I had two children: Christian and Tyler. Raising these children was a delight and a challenge. Susan is particularly good with the little children. Through the years, the friendship and affection with these two boys has deepened. How blessed we are to include them in our circle of love.
In 1979, good friend David Irvine who had been serving in the State Legislature resigned to accept a position with the State Utilities Commission. He urged me to run for the position he was vacating, and after an initial negative reaction, I decided to do so. Thus began a major element of my life, serving for 15 years as a member of the Utah State Legislature and later for 16 years as a member of the State Board of Education, including 7 years when I served as chair of the Board. In 2004, I was elected president of the National Association of State Boards of Education with headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
My three decade long stint in public service convinced me there are many superior public servants (people like Afton Bradshaw, Nolan Karras, and Olene Walker) and many devoted public employees (Steve Laing and Patti Harrington to name a couple). I also discovered some whose service was a tool for self-promotion. I soon found many I could trust, and some who I could not. (Discretion leads me to avoid names in the latter case.)
Along the way, I spent a lot of time in church service: as a member of the General LDS Church Drama committee which I briefly chaired before the “old MIA” was disbanded, membership on a Stake High Council, a couple of stints in ward Bishoprics, and over two decades teaching Gospel Doctrine classes.
Both of our boys married: Chris is married to Susi who brought five children along with her, and Tyler to Ann. One of the inspiring stories of our life is how Tyler and Ann who struggled to conceive for years, ultimately brought three miracle children into the world via in vitro fertilization.
The avocations and hobbies of my life are spread out. I have done a bit of writing: some articles and books are published and if you are really interested they can be found online or in my library. But gardening would have to rank as a top interest: begonias, perennial salvia, exotic iris, and lush prolific hosta dot the pathways of our garden. I worry a bit about who will keep the weeds out and the soil cultivated when I am gone. But I have a hunch that some eternal gardens need care elsewhere. I would make a fairly decent eternal gardener!
Now it seems possible all of this to be headed to a rapid conclusion. In one week we learned about dealing with Sepsis, the need for open-heart surgery, then instead facing the challenge of liver cancer, and struggling with a sticky bowel infection. At the end of that week, we are unsure which malady will win out. Perhaps I will survive it all; perhaps not. Susan can fill in the conclusion if I am not around.
Death came peaceful with family by my side on July 7, 2017.
Mom and Dad (Rulon and Margie Burningham) died years ago. My brothers Rodney and Gary are gone (Rodney while still a toddler and Gary of a sudden heart attack). My brother Dee and his wife Barbara as well as my sister Jeen and her husband (Roger Brown) survive and live in our mutual hometown, Bountiful, Utah. Son Chris and his wife Susi both work at the University of Utah and live in Clinton, Utah; Susi’s children are scattered in Utah, Idaho, and Oklahoma. Tyler and Ann along with their precocious and delightful children, Lucy, Tanner, and Drew live in Virginia where Tyler continues his dental practice.
Viewings will be held on Tuesday, July 11th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 295 North Main Street, Bountiful, Utah and Wednesday, July 12th from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. at the Bountiful Canyon Park Ward Chapel, 1190 East Bountiful Hills Drive, Bountiful, Utah. The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, July 12th at 11 a.m. also at the Bountiful Canyon Park Ward Chapel . I expect to be there.