Cover photo for Francis H. "Buzz" Burnham's Obituary
Francis H. "Buzz" Burnham Profile Photo

Francis H. "Buzz" Burnham

June 26, 1921 — February 10, 2017

Francis H. "Buzz" Burnham

Francis H. “Buzz” Burnham, 95, of Forest City died Friday, February 10, 2017 at the Muse Norris Hospice Inpatient Unit in Mason City.

Funeral services will be held 11:30 A.M., Saturday, February 25, 2017 at Forest City United Methodist Church, with Pastor Les Green officiating.

Private family interment services will be held in Rose Hill Cemetery, next to his wife Julia, in Thompson, Iowa. Military honors will be performed by the Leland V.F.W. Post # 6161 honor guard.

His daughter Kitra’s memorial service follows at 2:00 pm, also at the Forest City United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Forest City Methodist Church.

Francis Harvey (Buzz) Burnham passed away February 10, 2016, in Mason City, Iowa. Buzz was born on June 26, 1921, in Webster City to Alfred E. and Ella May (Welch) Burnham. He grew up on farms and attended country schools around Kanawha, graduating from high school in Kanawha in 1939. He received a $75 scholarship to attend Waldorf College, graduating with an A.A. in 1941. He then worked at the R.E.A. office in Thompson, where he met his future wife of 65 years, Julia G. Branstad, at a portable roller rink. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 to avoid muddy foxholes, married Julia in1943 during a 30-day shore leave, and ultimately served on the USS McClelland supporting operations at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He received 4 battle stars.

After the war, he attended Iowa State College under the G.I. Bill and received a B.S. degree in Industrial Education in 1949. Francis and Julia’s first child, Kitra (Kathleen), was born in Ames two weeks after graduation. He then taught industrial arts in Decorah, where their second child, Alan, was born in 1950. He received an M.S. in education from Iowa State in 1952. The family moved to Marshalltown in 1954, where he taught vocational and adult education until retiring in 1983. He was active in the Iowa Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA), including being the original State Advisor from 1966 to 1968 and receiving the Dedicated Service Award for 1971-72. He thought it was important to treat all students with respect and help those who did not relate to the traditional academic program learn the skills needed for a productive occupation. He served as Vice-President of the Iowa Retired Teachers Association in 1992 and received the National Retired Educator Award for Iowa from the National Retired Teachers Association in 1997.

Buzz lived a life of service to others—not so they would become indebted to him, but because he had a desire to serve others. This spirit motivated his active participation in the United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school and sang in the choir for many years; in Lions Clubs in Marshalltown and Forest City; and in the VFW, American Legion, Kum-Along Club, Heritage Park, Dollars for Scholars and tutoring programs, and history projects at Waldorf College in Forest City. He received the Outstanding Older Iowan Award in 1985 from the State of Iowa Commission on the Aging, the Volunteer of the Year from Forest City in 2006, and Governor’s Volunteer Awards from Governors Terry Branstad in 1986 and Thomas Vilsack in 2003.

He served in many roles in the Lions Clubs. He collected used eyeglasses for the sight program. He earned a Master Key for membership recruitment, Lion of the Year awards in Marshalltown and Forest City, a District Service Award, the Ralph A. Whitten and Warren Coleman Awards from the Iowa Lions, and Lions highest award, the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services, from the Lions International Foundation.
He showed his family the natural wonders of the United States by driving to International Lions Conventions in Atlantic City, Miami Beach, and Los Angeles, camping along the way. He continued his love of travel for many years, including trips around Europe and to Alaska in a VW camper with Julia and Kitra.

He was loved by his family and cheered all who knew him by his sense of humor.

He was preceded in death by his wife; three siblings, Arthur, Ada, and Wendell; and his daughter.

He is survived by his son, Alan, and daughter-in-law, Mary, of Livermore, CA; their three children, Amy, Emily, and Aaron; and five grandchildren.
To send flowers to the family in memory of Francis H. "Buzz" Burnham, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Starts at 11:30 am (Central time)

United Methodist Church - Forest City

305 S. Clark St., Forest City, IA 50436

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