Burnell and Jean dedicated much of their lives to the young people of Lane County. Jean as a teacher and CASA and Burnell as a youth sports coach and biggest fundraiser for the Rotary Duck Race fund raiser for youth-oriented charities, they strongly believed that all kids deserve the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom and on the ball field.
Sports played a central role in their relationship. They first met at an Oregon-Stanford football game in 1953. After moving frequently in the early years of their marriage, including a stint in West Pakistan where Burnell worked in management on the largest earth-fill dam in the world at Fort Mangla on the Jhelum River, the pair settled in Eugene, Jean’s hometown. With Jean teaching elementary school, Burnell, a three-sport athlete at Willamette University, coached many of his children’s sports teams in the EBAA, a forerunner of Kidsports. He would return to coaching to lend his oldest son, Dan, a hand in with his own son’s sports teams.
They kept near perfect attendance at their grandkids’ sporting events, usually with a sack dinner and always with words of encouragement.
After 64 inseparable years, they died three months apart in the summer of 2020. Burnell passed in June, Jean in early September.