On December 27th, 2022, Geraldine "Geri" Burnett, beloved mother and “Grandma BB,” passed away, surrounded by friends and family in Roundup, Montana. Her husband held her hand bravely as she slipped away. Just three days later, on December 30th, her husband of sixty-two years, Ronald "Cowboy Ron” Burnett, followed her home. In the end, he had to join his love and his mate, to heal his heart. They are together now, angels in the starry sky, forever young and beautiful.
In one lifetime, Ron and Geri lived so "bigly" and so completely. They met in high school in Houston, Texas. Ron fell hard for Geri, voted the “most beautiful sophomore” in her class and flag bearer for the Scottish Brigade, while Geri fell for Ron, the star football player who always stood up for students who could not stand up for themselves. After high school, Ron went to Texas A&M, joined ROTC, and earned a degree in Chemical Engineering. Geri took night classes in Creative Writing and Psychology while working as the secretary for an oil company. They were married when Geri was 21 years old, and immediately left Houston to start their grand adventure together; Ron would join the Air Force, and Geri would raise their children while they traveled all over the world as a family.
Geri soon had a daughter (Leslie) and a son (Mark), and the family was stationed as far away as Germany. During their time in the Air Force, they lived in Alabama, California, Washington State, Texas, Boston, Germany, California (for the second time), Washington DC, Nebraska, and Montana, in that order!
Geri flourished as an Air Force wife and mother and was always an asset to every community she joined. She adored the travel, the adventure, and the decorum of the military. She was a scout leader, a consummate entertainer, and later even a model and makeup artist. She was a champion for her own children, and encouraged them to read, to try things, to think for themselves, and to stand up for what is right. She was a mom to so many beyond Leslie and Mark, always ready to listen. She was the friend that everyone should have, truly interested and able to draw people out.
Ron was an asset to every post he was assigned to. During his career he obtained a master’s degree from Harvard University. He dove into life headfirst, hunting, becoming a champion Trap and skeet shooter, running marathons and countless other running races. He loved a good game of racquetball or handball and learned to ride horses. For years he did all the work on the family cars. Ron taught the family to love the outdoors and spent much time, camping, seeing all the national parks, hiking, and visiting their beloved cabin in Montana. He and Geri gave their children a wonderful childhood full of beautiful memories.
Ron was an excellent officer and engineer, but his finest assignment was his last. He was asked to command the base hospital and Clinic at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls Mt. He was the first engineer to ever receive the title, as everyone before him who held the position had been a doctor. It was truly his finest hour, as he was not just an engineer, but a great leader who could motivate people. Ron retired proudly from the Air Force at the rank of Colonel after serving for 31 years. The retirement party thrown for him was truly one for the ages, with tributes and loving jokes, including a giant red edit pen! After the sendoff, Ron and Geri moved to Roundup, Montana to realize his final dream: becoming a real cowboy.
When Ron and Geri retired to their little ranch, the “Dun Romin”, Geri put her incredible empathy to work at the Agency on Aging in Roundup. She was an ombudsman, standing up for and assisting elderly people in the Roundup Area. Ron enjoyed his horses and rode nearly everyday regardless of weather conditions. He was always ready to help neighboring ranches with brandings, calving, and herd movements. Ron was active in the Masonic lodge and Shriners. Geri cherished her beloved “Cowboy Church”, its minister, and her dear friends of the congregation.
Ron and Geri are survived by their daughter Leslie Herbert (Larry), son Mark Burnett, Geri’s brother Bill Conaway, grandchildren Muirann Jones and Jefferson Jones, and many wonderful friends. They were high school sweethearts happily married for sixty-two years and in the end were only apart a few days. A celebration of life will be held this summer on a date to be determined.
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