Minturn resident Bill Burnett dies at 87 |

Minturn resident Bill Burnett dies at 87

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado
Daily file photoBill Burnett was most recently elected to the council in 1998 and resigned from the council June 4 of this year.

MINTURN, Colorado ” To hear the life story of Bill Burnett, who died Friday, June 13 at the age of 87, is really to hear the life story of Minturn.

Burnett was born in 1920 in Minturn ” when the town was still home to legions of miners and railroad workers ” and lived there almost his entire life. He worked as a miner in Gilman as a young man, founded Burnett Heating, Plumbing and Electrical in the 1960s when Vail was making its name as a ski resort, and served numerous terms on the Minturn Town Council beginning in 1948.

He was a vital part of Minturn’s history and helped keep the past alive through his books, “Minturn, a Memoir” and “The Eagle on Battle Mountain at Gilman, Colorado and My Life as I Remember.”

“He recognized the value of the history of the town. He put it down on paper and gave it to the people,” Michael Gallagher, who once served as the town’s police chief, said.

Burnett was a dedicated public servant, someone who believed the government existed solely to serve the people, said Minturn Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty. His extensive knowledge of the town and its history was a welcome and appreciated voice on the Town Council, Flaherty said.

Burnett was most recently elected to the council in 1998 and resigned from the council June 4 of this year. Burnett also had served as a volunteer firefighter, was a founding board member of the Eagle Valley Library District and was a justice of the peace.

“He had a great memory about everything that happened in town, how it got started, how it happened, the process it went through,” Flaherty said. “Also, if he didn’t agree with you, he’d let you know. He had backbone. He worked to serve the people.”

Tim Pierson, a grandson, said his favorite memories of his grandfather were days spent playing cards, board games, dominoes or fishing. He was definitely an impressive man, Pierson said, someone who obviously had seen and experienced a lot in his life, but he always seemed to be most interested in the present, what was going on with his family.

“He would talk about the old days if you invited a conversation, but he was very caught up in the moment, too. What you were doing right then was very special to him,” Pierson said.

Gallagher said Burnett was an extremely helpful man, whether it was through one of his roles as a public servant, or just someone helping the average Joe out.

“Minturn was paying their cops pretty cheap back in the 70s, and when my hot water heater had blown, he made sure I had a new one at a price I could afford, because that was the right thing to do,” Gallagher said.

Burnett was incapable of saying “no” to the fire department and was always donating his time and services, Gallagher said.

“I think he’ll be remembered for his kindness and willingness to give himself to the town,” Gallagher said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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