Walter "Jackie" Burkett Jr.December 16, 1936 ~ September 1, 2017 (age 80)
WALTER JACKSON "JACKIE" BURKETT, JR.
1936 - 2017
Walter Jackson "Jackie" Burkett Jr. went to his heavenly home with the Lord, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 with his family, by his side at his home, after a courageous brief battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was born in Thorsby, Alabama on December 16, 1936 to the late Walter Jackson Burkett Sr. and Lucille Cory Burkett.
Jackie graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1955 and Auburn University in 1960. While attending Choctawhatchee he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Jacqueline "Jackie" Hudson Burkett. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary March 15, 2018. Jackie had a strong bond of love with his family. He received great joy through the fellowship of dinners, ice cream socials, and reunions with family and dear friends. The 'Captain' of his family will be proudly remembered for his warm, welcoming smile, infectious laugh, and the devotion of this beloved son, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, brother and uncle. Most importantly Jackie was a strong man of faith who was a true testimony and servant of God. He left his children and grandchildren a legacy by the way he lived his life. His advice was, "Do what's right and do what's good, work hard, be kind and help others." He was an active member of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Fort Walton Beach.
Jackie said, "My life started with humble beginnings, but through God's gift of athletic ability, I was allowed to reach countless people. God opened many doors that otherwise would not have been opened to me. The main thing I want to do in this life is to do what I can to make the world a better place to live in." Jackie lived an unbelievable dream of lifetime achievements, all the while remaining faithful in his walk with God.
Jackie grew up in Andalusia, where he excelled in three sports; football, baseball and basketball through his sophomore year. After moving to Fort Walton Beach and transferring to Choctawhatchee High School his junior year, he became a two-year starter in football playing offensive center and linebacker then moved to quarterback his senior year. Jackie received All-conference honors in football as well as being captain of the basketball team.
After graduating from Choctawhatchee High, Jackie accepted a scholarship from Auburn University, where he was a two-way player for the Auburn Tigers, playing center and linebacker, while also calling the defensive signals. As a sophomore, he was named a starter and was a part of the 1957 team that won the SEC and the National championship. He also played in the 1960 East West Shrine Game in San Francisco as well as the College All-Star Football Classic in Chicago. It also meant a lot to him to be Team Captain his senior year. Jackie proved to be one of the finest all-around athletes ever at Auburn University. During his Auburn years he received the following awards: All-SEC Sophomore of the year (1957), All-SEC (1957), All-SEC Center of the year (1958), All-SEC Linebacker of the year (1958), All-SEC (1958), All-American (1958), All-SEC (1959), Honorable-mention All-American (1959). Jackie appeared with members of the 1958 All-American team on the Ed Sullivan Show. He was also included in the College Sports Information Directors of America and The Board of Editors of The American Peoples Encyclopedia as part of the 1959 All-American Football Team Academic Football Team in which all members are excellent scholars as well as accomplished athletes.
After helping Auburn win the 1957 National Championship, Jackie started his 11 year NFL career, beginning with the Baltimore Colts who selected him in the first round (12th overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. He was named Rookie of the Year for the Colts. After a shoulder injury as a rookie, he was named a starter in 1961 as a linebacker. Seven seasons later, Burkett became one of the original members of the New Orleans Saints, when selected in the 1967 NFL Expansion Draft. That year he played in 14 regular season games as a starter outside linebacker and snapper. On August 28, 1968, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys where he spent two seasons. On June 23, 1970, Jackie Burkett was traded back to the New Orleans Saints where he started ten games at outside linebacker and was also the team´s long snapper. On Nov. 8, 1970 against the Detroit Lions, he became a part of league history, when he made the 'perfect snap' of the ball that Tom Dempsey kicked on the final play for a 19–17 win. This was an NFL record setting 63-yard field goal which stood for 43 years.
Jackie is a multi Hall of Fame inductee. He is a member of the 1988 20th Class of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the 1995 Mobile Sports Hall of Fame, the 2003 All Sports Association Hall of Fame, the 2010 Andalusia High School Football Hall of Fame, the 2013 Choctawhatchee High School Hall of Fame, and the 2015 Class of the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame. Jackie was also named to the Auburn Team of the Century in 1993. He was voted to the Legends of SEC football in 1999.
In addition, Jackie was a successful businessman. He co-owned a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans for five years (1968–73). He also owned and managed a marina in Dunedin, FL. After retiring from the NFL, Jackie also worked as a sales manager for a pipe business Price Brother and as the marketing vice president with the engineering firm Post, Buckley, Schuh and Jernigan, that designed bridges and roads. He also served as the county commissioner, District 5, in Fort Walton Beach from 2000 to 2004. Jackie was a devoted community supporter demonstrated by his memberships in many organizations and service on various boards. He served eight years on the board with Bridgeway. He was a prominent speaker for civic, church, education and charity groups. Jackie truly relished the friends he made throughout his football days as well as throughout his business years.
In his retirement years, Jackie loved golfing and looked forward to a round with the Wednesday group of golfing buds. You could always catch him along with other sports and Hollywood celebrities playing golf tournaments for worthy charities. He enjoyed boating and fishing especially when accompanied by his family. The two "Jackies" both traveled to beautiful places such as Hawaii, Alaska, and many tropical islands. They also might be found scalloping with friends, attending games or watching his former teams and cheering them on. He has also been known to suggest a play or two! Jackie loved his "seasons" as a Bulldog, Indian, Tiger, Colt, Saint or Cowboy.
Jackie was preceded in death by his father, Walter Jackson Burkett, Sr. and mother, Lucille Cory Burkett; sister, Elizabeth Burkett Dawkins, brother-in-law, Emory Dawkins; and sister, Mildred Burkett Qualls; father-in-law, Dock Hudson and mother-in-law, Irene Edgar Hudson.
Jackie is survived by his wife, Jacqueline "Jackie" Burkett; son, Jay, grandsons, Jason Burkett and Joshua Burkett; son, Jon Burkett and wife, Kathy, grandson, Chris Burkett and great-granddaughter, Alana, grandson Matt Burkett and wife, Morgan, great-granddaughter, Mattie Lou, and grandson Jonathan Burkett; and son, Jud Burkett. Other surviving relatives are brother-in-law, Jimmy Hudson, sister-in-laws, Janie Hudson Southard and Alice Etheridge; brother-in-law J. D. (Dorsey) Qualls; Numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
We want to express our most sincere thanks to all of the doctors and healthcare professionals for the compassion and loving care shown to our dear one Jackie during his illness. We are most grateful to Jackie's brother-in-law, Jim Hudson, who was with him from beginning to end.
The family will receive friends on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Emerald Coast Funeral Home, 161 Racetrack Road NW, Ft. Walton Beach. The celebration of Jackie's life will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 with a time of visitation from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm with the service beginning at 1:00 pm. at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 110 St. Mary Ave SW,, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548. Interment will follow at Beal Memorial Cemetery. Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed at www.emeraldcoastfuneral.com
Flowers are accepted.
Memorial gifts may be made in his honor to:
St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital
501 St Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com .