Dr. Hugh F. Burnett II

August 3, 1942May 14, 2018
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A box of Parodi cigars, a fifth of single malt scotch, and a flight of unsuspecting ducks welcomed Dr. Hugh F. Burnett II to heaven on May 14, 2018. He took his final breath at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, his “home away from home” for the last 42 years. He loved the hospital and all those who worked in it.

Hugh was born August 3, 1942 in Shawnee, Oklahoma to Hugh Franklin Burnett and Selma Hull Burnett. Hugh’s father was a World War II bomber pilot who was shot down over Belgium after ordering his crew to parachute. Sadly he did not survive, but Hugh’s father remains a hero in our family. Selma remarried to Herbert L. Wineland, M.D. in 1945, and from that union Hugh was blessed with six siblings who always looked up to their big brother.

Hugh grew up in Gunnison, Colorado and Nashville, Tennessee while his second father finished his education. The family moved to Pine Bluff in 1955, where Hugh graduated from high school. He attended both Christian Brothers and Tulane University, graduating in 1963. In graduate school he worked towards a master’s degree in zoology. The University of Arkansas School of Medicine occupied his next four years.

In 1969 he married Sally Roberta Trammell from DeQueen. Their first son, Hugh Franklin Burnett III, was born later that year, followed by Thomas Wilson Burnett in 1973. Medical school led to residencies in general and cardiothoracic surgery also at UAMS. Although Hugh specialized in lung and esophageal surgery, he retained his cardiothoracic board standing throughout his career. His professional affiliations are too numerous to list.

Hugh joined The Surgical Clinic in 1976 with Grimsley Graham, M.D. A short time later, Everett Tucker, M.D. joined the two to create an incredible triad of surgeons. The Surgical Clinic grew immensely over the years with too many fine surgeons to name. The clinic paralleled the rise of the Higginbotham Surgery Center on the Baptist campus.

Hugh was a teacher despite his non-academic career path. He educated hundreds of nurses, physicians, and hospital staffs throughout his 40-year surgical span. Calm as any under pressure and with an unbreakable shell, Hugh was a teddy bear on the inside. His emotions were deep but he could always keep them in check. Almost always.

What little free time Hugh had was devoted to his wife, his two sons, and his five granddaughters. He rarely traveled unless there was a medical meeting, gun show, shooting competition, or hunt at the other end of the journey. He never joined a country club or played golf. His time was spent with his family. Every Sunday night at Hugh and Sally’s home was “girls night”. They adore their Paw and Sassy.

Ducks, fishing, and guns were a large part of Hugh’s life away from the hospital, always with the boys. Hugh, Charles Sullivan, M.D., Whit Hall, M.D., and Jerry Carman acquired the Miracle Mallard Duck Club in 1983, and legendary family weekends were born. Duck club pictures always came with wide smiles, yet Hugh rarely shot!

Hugh’s third family consisted of his Benton Gun Club brothers—Dr. Sullivan, Neil Compton, Harold Smith, Greg Sullivan, Mason Sickle, Larry Reynolds, Bill Duncan, Alston Jennings, Leroy Squires, and Rich Richards. Yearly matches in Louisiana, Texas, and of course, Saline County were a staple for the last 25 years. These guys were always up for guns and grilling.

Nobody knew Hugh better than his loving and beautiful wife Sally. She did it all at home, and still does. She endured the call nights when Hugh was gone all night, the many nights when he arrived home at insanely late hours, and the phone ringing all night when he was on call. Just under 50 years of cooking, cleaning, kids, grandkids, and unconditional support and love! Hugh was blessed to have found the perfect wife and mother.

Hugh was predeceased by his father Hugh, his mother, his second father, and his beloved great aunt, Nell Sakach (Nene). He is survived by his wife Sally, his sons Hugh Franklin III (Lin) and Thomas Wilson; their wives Suzanne and Jennifer, and five granddaughters, Haley, Hope, Rebecca, Brette, and Sydney. He is also survived by his sisters and brothers, Lee Wineland, M.D. (Pam), Pam Willis (Maurice), Daria Wineland (John Porton), Teresa Wineland, Vicki Perry (Jim), and Greg Wineland (Angela), 14 nieces and nephews, 9 great nieces and nephews, and his brother-in-law Bob Trammell.

A special thank you to Stephen Hutchins, M.D., Derlis Martino, M.D. and John Ransom, M.D. for their sacrifice of time and expertise. We can't thank you enough for your heroic efforts. Thanks also to Drs. Nancy Rector, Keerthy Narisetty, Eyad Abochale, and Shane Kimball. The nursing staff in the CVICU was exemplary. Thank you, Rebecca, and all those who cared for him.

Visitation will be at Griffin Leggett Healey & Roth, 5800 West 12th, on Friday, May 18 from 5-7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church on Saturday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m.

Donations can be made to Ducks Unlimited or the Humane Society of Pulaski County.


  • Visitation Friday, May 18, 2018
  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dr. Hugh F. Burnett II

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May 19, 2018

I remember with great honor working with Dr. Burnett on 6A. His respect for his patients and those that worked with him has been constant reminder through the years of how wonderful people can be. Again a great honor to have known him. Condolences to his wife, Shirley, who he talked about at every opportunity with love and admiration.

Loren Morris

May 19, 2018

One of the funniest, kindest human I have met. Always had something witty to say. Even after a long day doing his rounds he would pop a smile. He had many admires among staff, and held everyone's respect. I remember a mistake I made with one of his patients, he sat there and listened to my explanation of events, he instead of yelling at me, or demeaning me he said "ok", and fixed it.
Everything I know and learned about Chest tubes was taught to me by this man, and I will never for get to keep the chest tube taped to the side.
Father God in the name of Jesus, be with the family and friends of the Burnett family. Comfort them, bring them peace. Let them find joy in his memories, and peace in his place with you father God. in Jesus name amen
Not good by Dr. Hugh Burnett, just till I see you on the other side.

Lisa Hum

May 19, 2018

We called him "Huge" instead of Hugh Burnett. He was that admired. I first met Dr. Burnett in 1979. I was a brand new phlebotomist in the lab. I didn't know much, but I did know that if a patient had blood drawn to be typed and crossmatched....they had to be wearing a hospital arm band. So, I'm called to a patient room and there on the bed is a young Dr. Burnett. He had done an emergent thorocotomy and had his hands in this patient's chest. He (rather forcibly) told me I needed to draw some blood for a crossmatch. I looked him dead in the eye and asked him if the patient was wearing an armband. I think you can imagine his response. Fast forward about twenty years; I'm a nurse in the emergency department. We have a patient with a dissecting aneurysm. I'm told to go get Dr. Burnett in the doctor's lounge. I go in and literally grab his arm, slinging his breakfast everywhere and pull him out of his chair. I tell him why we need him as I am pulling him to the patient's room. He stops at the door and says, "I just have one question: is this patient wearing an armband?" And that describes Dr. "Huge" Burnett: humorous, witty, and always there when you needed him. I will miss him so much. We all will.

Missy Riley

May 18, 2018

There are no words to describe how big a whole that now exist in the medical community. He was larger than life and a force of nature. Many prayers of peace and love for his family.

Irah Blackwell

May 18, 2018

Dr. Burnett was always such a nice person, never concerned with the title you held he always treated every one with respect. I worked at Baptist in the holding area for procedures also known as staging and when ever he came through he always spoke to the staff and treated his patients with dignity and respect.

Elaine Hunthrop

May 18, 2018

Dr. Burnett was my surgeon when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990. I remember very clearly he told me to ask all the questions I wanted because he had all the time in the world to answer them. It made it easier to wait for an appointment with him because I knew he was treating his other patients with the same care. A couple of quotes from him: "hospitals may not have good food, but they do have good drugs. don't lay there in pain. " and "go ahead and say what you are thinking, I'm sure I hear worse than that every day from my partners!". With all the doctors over all the years of my treatments and follow-up visits, he remains my favorite. I am 28 years cancer free and credit him for getting me on the right medical path. Blessings to the family and sympathies on your loss.

Carolyn Johnson

May 17, 2018

I worked with Dr. Burnett many times in the GI Lab at Baptist Hospital in the late 70's and early 90's. He was always such a pleasure to work with with his wit and dry sense of humor which made him easy to work for. He also scoped my father who died with pulmonary fibrosis. I'll always remember his gentle manner. I was shocked to see his obit in the paper and am truly sorry for his family for losing such a fine man but I know he was welcomed into his heavenly home with open arms. May he rest in peace.

vernon tarver

May 17, 2018

Hugh, Overton Anderson and myself went to work in Pea fields
(Rochell, IL.) one summer and then up to Grand Island Neb to
work in Wheat fields. We didn't work much but built lot of memories.
I will never forget Hugh or that trip. Vernon Tarver

Gabrielle Smith

May 17, 2018

My Father was referred to Dr. Burnett in November of 2014 following a diagnosis of lung cancer. I accompanied him as my Mother was out of town attending my Grandmother's funeral. I have been an RN for 28 years and am not easily impressed with physicians. Dr. Burnett was kind, compassionate and honest with us. He had my respect within 10 minutes of meeting him. He treated my Dad with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, my Dad was not a candidate for surgery and passed away in September of 2015. My daughter, Hallie Smith, had just begun working at Baptist as an Echo Tech when my Dad passed away. He was so proud of her for getting her education. And landing her position. She knew Dr. Burnett. He was very kind to her and I know she respected him immensely. Baptist Medical Center and the State of Arkansas lost one of the best this week. His legacy will live on in all those he taught to take care of patients with compassion and respect while maintaining their dignity. Praying for the Burnett family as well as his Baptist family. May our Lord wrap His loving arms around you all and provide comfort, strength, and peace in the days ahead. I know he was truly loved.

Cristina Howell

May 17, 2018

He touch many lives as a surgeon and as a person!!!! I love the Mexican word of the Day he often read and we had the opportunity to speak in Spanish !!!! I will forever be thankful to him for taking care of my son when he was sick. He made my job fun and enjoyable !!! Dr. Burnett will always be remember as one the best thoracic surgeon our hospital ever had. I am grateful for the knowledge he shared , but most of all for the friendship we all share with him. Working with him for the past 18 years made my job enjoyable!!!! RIP Dr. Burnett...