Robert D. Burnette

December 20, 1953August 24, 2021

Robert Drake Burnette, known as “Bobby” to his family and oldest school friends, and as “Bob” to work colleagues, lost his hard fought battle with cancer on August 24, 2021. Sensitive, smart, funny, and exasperatingly stubborn, his faith sustained him as he found a special peace in his final but active months.

Born in Mount Vernon, Illinois in 1953, while his parents were briefly living out of Texas, he was the elder son of Wanda Drake Burnette and Bobby West Burnette. Raised in Austin, he was a 1972 graduate of McCallum High School, and continued his education at the University of Texas, where he received his BBA in 1976. Later, while pursuing an MBA at UT, Bob opted to forego graduate studies to earn a then sizeable income working for Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages. In the early 1980s, the lure of the oil patch led him into oil and gas exploration and promotion, first in Austin and later with two companies in Houston. When oil prices collapsed, Bob returned to Austin, joining the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in 1988. He moved to the then Texas Department of Health in 2000, rising to the position of Director of Purchasing as the agency grew into the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Retiring in 2016, Bob briefly returned to assist the HHSC purchasing department for several months in 2018.

Bob cherished his two daughters—Kaylan Drake Burnette (husband Jake Fellner) and Laura Lain Burnette—and was “Papa-proud” of the adult lives they were establishing. He also is survived by his brother Kevin Burnette (wife Patricia), sister Kelly Bumpass (husband Mark), Aunt Susan White, nieces Constance Callen Burnette and Anna Grace Burnette, nephew Robert Bumpass, his former wife, Kathleen Stischer Burnette, and Christina Lane, an unstinting friend with whom he shared many important conversations, frustrations, laughs, and a cocktail or two. He was preceded in death by his parents.

As a young man, Bob enjoyed playing sports, particularly football. When he could no longer compete on the football field after suffering an early severe knee injury, he turned to the Texas waters he loved, embracing surfing as a lifelong passion, traveling to Port Aransas or South Padre whenever he could. Bob also resumed playing golf, which he learned as a kid from his maternal grandfather at Lions Municipal (“Muny”) Golf Course—as had his father. It was where Bob would teach both his daughters. According to his regular “golf buddies,” he developed an impressive golf game as a right-hander, despite being left-handed. He and the group routinely played at Muny and other area courses for the better part of twenty years. Sports aside, he continued his tenacious oil painting efforts until his death. Bobby found an abiding faith in God early. He was active in Young Life, and he resolutely carried his Christian faith with him throughout his adult life, most recently nurtured at St. Francis Anglican Church. Sustained by faith, Bobby embraced the fact that every day was a gift, reaching out to family and friends, celebrating and thanking them. Thank you, Bobby, for that last sunset sail.

A memorial service officiated by Father Len Giacolone will begin at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at the Clubhouse, Lions Municipal Golf Course (Muny), 2901 Enfield Road in Austin, Texas. A reception to follow until 8 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Bob’s name to Save Muny may be made to The Muny Conservancy, at


21 September

Memorial Service

5:00 pm

Lions Municipal Golf Course


2901 Enfield Road
Austin, Texas 78703


Robert D. Burnette

have a memory or condolence to add?

Amanda Lavin

September 19, 2021

We will miss Bob dearly and send our prayers to his family. We are blessed to have known him and to now have his beloved Bonnie as part of our family.

Linda Hart

September 18, 2021

I worked with Bob for a number of years at Texas Dept of Health. We faced a great deal of challenging tasks together over the years, implementing a new software system for the agency and the consolidation of the health agencies. Through all of this, there were times that we didn’t agree with each other, but we still walked away friends. He spoke often with love and pride about his daughters and conversations with his mother endeared him to all of his staff. He became our Bobby. Bob didn’t like conflict, he was willing to listen and he had the greatest smile. He was a good man and he left us too soon. I pray that Bob’s family will find comfort in knowing that Bob had things in order before he left his earthly home and that they will be together again one day. Rest in peace, Bob.

anne hulsman

September 14, 2021

Too many memories, conversations, laughs, joy and a whole lot of years in between. Here is a favorite picture of Bobby, where he seemed happy, full of light and where he felt truly at home. Miss you so and God speed.

Susan White

September 13, 2021

My two nephews and me above. Bobby my first to call me Aunt Sue, and me who named him Bobby D. (Robert Drake); first for his parents Wanda and Bob, and first grandchild for my parents - more like a little adored brother as like my sister and me, we also were 13 years apart. He became a generous and supportive man, loving father to his two daughters, and a rock to my sister after her husband died and then one to me after mine passed away. To my children he and his brother Kevin were role models - clever, witty, smart and encouraged us all to see life as they did - with humor. These two bigger than life, cannot not be denied their influence on us. Life without Bobby will be hard for all of us - I loved him so and depended on him especially during these last years and he willingly gave to all of us - I miss him terribly but knowing his faith and his beliefs we will all be together again. Rest, Good and Faithful Servant - Aunt Sue

Susan White

September 13, 2021

Bonnie Adachi

August 31, 2021

My sincere condolences to Bob's family and friends. Bob hired me as a purchasing clerk for TDH back in 2001. He certainly was a good person and boss. And he will be greatly missed.

Deanna Kinsfather

August 31, 2021

To the Family of Bob ~
He was an amazing man - A man that could tell wild stories - have sympathy and empathy to the staff that he mentored. Bob was known at the DSHS campus as Terry Bradshaw’s look-a-like. He was funny, stern and did not like to discipline employees. When he entered the room he demanded everyone’s attention; however he had a shy side to him as well. He always gave second and third chances. Bob was a dedicated public servant for the great state of Texas for many years. He would speak very fondly of his two loving daughters – and was a servant to his mother. I can honestly say his family came before anything. This is the last photo of the last time we enjoyed an extra long lunch. You will be greatly missed Bob. Forever in our hearts.

Tu-Anh Ming

August 30, 2021

I will pray for his soul and comfort for his family. God bless him and his family.

Cathy Hartman

August 30, 2021

My deepest sympathies for your loss. Bob was a wonderful man, i worked at the department of Health with him and got to know him there. He was always smiling and always spoke to me even though we didn't really know each other as i worked under him but not directly with him. Years later i applied for a job with the Health and Human Services Commission and he happened to be in the interview. We recognized each other and i mentioned how nervous i was. He reassured me i was doing fine and to just answer each question to the best of my ability. I had a 2nd interview and i got the job. I would see him in the PCS building and we always spoke to each other. I will miss his smiling face and kindness. I am so sorry for you loss.
Cathy Hartman

Nicole Hutchison

August 30, 2021

I worked for Bob at PCS under the Client Services team several years back. I enjoyed our conversations as it was always nice to talk to him. He also motivated me to keep advancing in my career with PCS. He was such a wonderful person. I wish his family my sincere condolences.