John J. Burnett

August 25, 1929December 14, 2018

John J. Burnett, 89, of Clinton, former Research and Sales Training Manager of The Hartford Courant, died peacefully in the presence of his family.

He was born in Hartford, the son of Catherine (McMahon) and William Burnett. He was predeceased by his first wife, Maureen (Donahue) Burnett, his brothers Donald Burnett and Fr. George Burnett, and grandson Steven Fortier.

He attended St. Joseph's Parochial School in Hartford and graduated from Abbey Prep in Simsbury. He worked in the plumbing trade and became the Plumbing and Heating Inspector for the town of Wethersfield.

At the urging of his brother Don, he attended St. Michael's College in Winooski, VT, graduated cum laude in 1955 and was elected by the Society into Delta Epsilon Sigma, a Catholic honorary scholastic fraternity.

After college John joined the US Army and served in Germany during the Hungarian Crisis. He received his honorable discharge in 1957 and joined The Hartford Courant where he enjoyed a 35 year career in sales. He was the National Ad Manager prior to becoming the Research and Sales Training Manager, the position he held until his retirement in 1992. He introduced zoning which enabled advertisers to market more efficiently.

John was a past president of the Hartford Area Business Economist and remained active in the organization. He was a regional VP of The Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford and brought hundreds of men on retreat from Our Lady of Peace, his parish in East Hartford as well as from St. Mary Church of the Visitation in Clinton. He taught CCD for many years both in East Hartford and Clinton. He was an active member of St. Mary Church of the Visitation, a Eucharistic Minister, altar server, Minister to the Sick, member of the Stewardship Committee and the committee that built the parish center. He was also a Eucharistic Minister at Connecticut Hospice in Branford since 1998. With his wife Mary, he did Prison Ministry at YCI. John was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

In addition to his wife Mary Lee Burnett, John is survived by his six children who were raised by their loving mother Maureen in East Hartford. They are Eileen Normandin of Bolton, William (and Karen) of Avon, Nancy Baron of St. Petersburg, James (and Pam) of Hebron, Mary Ann Vanderjagt (and Roy) of So. Windsor and Kevin (and Jennifer) of Seminole, FL. He leaves 15 grandchildren: Shawna Wainwright, Jim Fortier, Sterling and Mariah Burnett, Gene, Jack and Maureen Baron, Dylan Lockwood, Morgan Hilliard, Zachary and James Burnett, Blake Vanderjagt, Campbell and Payton Burnett. He leaves three great grandchildren, Ciaran, Raiyn and Lana of Marlborough.

He will be remembered as a persistent man who had unconditional love and great faith who never gave up. He touched many lives.

Calling hours will be held on Tuesday, December 18th from 4-8pm at Swan Funeral Home, 80 E. Main St., Clinton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, December 19th at 11am in St. Mary Church of the Visitation, 54 Grove St., Clinton. Lunch will follow immediately at the Visitation Hall at St. Mary's. Burial will be at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Connecticut Hospice, St. Mary Church of the Visitation, Clinton, or to The Holy Family Monastery, W. Hartford.


  • Calling Hours Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday, December 19, 2018

John J. Burnett

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Bill Bertelli

December 20, 2018

John was a gifted soul who always complimented others and never about himself. One example of this was his trademark "Hey, have I ever told you about so-and-so? Have you got a minute? Let me tell you about him. He was a great guy .... " In all my years being around John, I have never heard him talk negatively about anyone. He always found the good in others and spread that news. John was the ultimate salesman! I owe him for twisting my arm year after year, never giving up, getting me to finally attend a retreat (as he has successfully done for SO many) I recall telling him one day "I'd rather have a root canal instead of attending, but if that will get you of my case, I'll go". And I'm eternally grateful for his persistence for that!

I can vivdly imagine John talking the ear off our Lord, saying "Do you know this guy? Have you got a minute? Let me tell you about him ...."

God Bless you, John Burnett. So many lives have been touched by your presence here on earth! THANK YOU!!

Kim Hannett

December 20, 2018

John was quite a presence. I met him about 10 years ago when he came for breakfast at my restaurant. The first time I met him I spent about an hour talking to him...actually I spent about an hour answering questions that he had about my life and my family and my faith. The next time that I saw him, about a month later he picked up right were we had left off in our last conversation. He had a sincere interest in people’s lives and he cared. Whenever he came to visit he would bring someone with him, he brought his wife Mary, a priest from a nearby parish , a WW11 veteran, his son, a young lady that Mary and he had helped at YCI and many others. He would come in and place his order and then no matter who he had with him, he would ask how I was and what was new, he would do the same with any one who he had met during a previous visit. He remembered each persons story and he genuinely was interested. During one of our talks we discovered that Johns mother and I had gone to the same Catholic girls school, a very small convent in Baltic CT about 70 years apart. With John it was a small world, he seemed to bring everyone together. I will miss seeing him very much. My prayers are with Mary and the rest of Johns family.

Maureen Crowley Cantrell

December 19, 2018

John Burnett was the best boss I ever had. When a holy day fell on a Saturday once, he took me to the cathedral. When I got an arm covered with poison ivy, he insisted I go to his dermatologist. He was a natural salesman, always persuasive and enthusuastic. He had a reputation of just picking up a phone and selling advertising and consistently beating out the Hartford Times. I was paid $110 a week after getting a four year degree from Central. In my early days at The Courant, I courageously told John that I wasn't getting paid enough proportionate to my responsibilities. He listened, left, returned and said "Maureen you're doing a helluva good job, and you are getting a $15 a week raise." I never forgot that. I made mistakes :like accepting a Volkswagen ad reservation from a California ad agency clerk. That night John had to drive to New Haven to pick up the ad! Yet, he was still nice about it the next morning, never ever raising his temper. Maybe his devotion to God and the Church kept him calm and good natured. I remember his daughter, Nancy, outgoing and friendly like her dad. All my condolences for a great man who made a difference in my life, and the lives of those lucky enough to have know him.

Raiyn Runyan

December 17, 2018

My favorite memory of Great Grandpa John is one of the weekends I spent with him and Mimi. I remember going to Mass with them and afterwards going home to have lunch and play with Hooper. Grandpa John and I visited his mother’s grave and ended the day with a trip to Friendly’s. Our conversations that day were especially thought-provoking and insightful. This is what made me enjoy this particular day the most. I loved him dearly and had many warm memories with him including this one.