Jake Burnett passed away in his Castle Valley home at age 74. Those near him know he was an exceptional person, and that he was defeated in the end by alcoholism. As tragic as this may be, stories from those who loved him portray a generous, fascinating person who will be remembered less for the sordid disease aspect of his life, and more for his unwavering reverence for the natural world, the soft/hard balance of his perspective, and his acerbic insistence on speaking out when something “just won’t right” in the world.
Jake was a carpenter, a fabulous cook, a DJ, a craftsman and turner of wood, a lifelong student and avid reader, a botanist and naturalist, a self-schooled true master of many topics, a faithful gardener, and an old school, well-rounded, extremely competent river guide. He had an unfailing sense of what should be celebrated, marking each day with some action or metaphoric tip of the hat. He loved silence, refined musical expression, and in-your-face artistic blare, depending on what was “needed.” He built most things by hand, dodged the weight of debts and doubts, and helped those less fortunate, pretty much as a creed. He loved folk art, books, “real” conversation, socializing and music. Jake held dear his truely unique memories and his many cherished friends.
Born in Ashland, Oregon, full name James Ray Burnett, he was son to Eugene Ray Burnett and Althea Enid Hamlin. His parents and his brother, Andrew, passed before him. Jake is survived by three siblings: Janet, Matt, and Julie. He had no children. He was a United States Navy veteran, honorably discharged in July of 1969. He took classes at UC Berkeley and earned a living with carpentry and river guiding in California and the Southwest, moving to Castle Valley in the ’80s, crafting a home, running rivers and enjoying a rural life with his ex-wife, Rebecca. He traveled a fair amount in his lifetime, often alone, experiencing many continents and cultures.
Gather your stories! Jake will be remembered on-air on May 3 during the KZMU radiothon, to contribute, in his way, with one more generous, fun-loving jaunt.