Burgoyne celebrates 90th birthday
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:41 PM
ARLINGTON Ben Burgoyne finally stopped piloting his own plane this year, but at the age of 90, hes still flying high.
Hundreds of friends and relatives gathered at Free Methodist Church June 3 to celebrate the life of a longtime member of the Arlington community, since Burgoyne turned 90 years old June 5.
Burgoynes extended family includes not only his son and two daughters, but also his wife Lawandas son and two daughters, as well as his 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Even though his father died at the age of 66, Burgoyne attributed his own longevity in part to genetics, since his mother and grandmother both lived to be nearly 100. Burgoyne also credited his faith with giving him strength, not only through the length of his life, but also all the events within it.
Burgoyne was still a young man when his brother inspired him to turn to Christianity, which in turn inspired him to help others.
I decided I could either become a preacher or a doctor, Burgoyne said. We had a church in our hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia, and the preacher let me give the evening talk, but I couldnt get through it without stumbling, so I decided that wasnt my calling.
Burgoynes path to becoming a doctor was fraught with even more difficulty, since he dropped out of school at 17 and didnt go back for two years. Money was also an issue, since Burgoyne was left with $200 after settling his fathers accounts, and medical school cost at least $2,000 back then. His mother suggested a chiropractic career instead, which saw him move to Portland, Ore., where he met and married his first wife, Bernita.
When I finally went into pre-med at Reed College, I was drafted by the Army, Burgoyne said. I was still in America on a student visa, but they needed doctors. I wondered, What are you doing to my life?
Burgoyne transferred to Texas A and M University, but the Army paid his school expenses and supported his wife, so that he could achieve his dream of becoming a doctor.
If you have a goal, give God a chance, even if he has to start a war to help make it happen, Burgoyne laughed.
Burgoynes daughter, Bonnie Brann, provoked good-natured groans of embarrassment from her father as she listed his numerous accomplishments since then.
He taught Sunday school, was a board member and sometimes even preached himself, Brann said to the birthday party attendees in the Arlington Free Methodist Church.
He served on the state and national committees for our denomination and served Seattle Pacific University for 30-plus years as a trustee. He helped found the Warm Beach Senior Center and sang bass in the church quartet.
Growing up, our dads commitment to this church was central, she added. I picture him as the Sunday school superintendent in the old church on French Street. I picture him, with us in tow, working on this building. I see him on the roofs of all these buildings.
Brann also recalled Burgoynes habit of travel, since he not only made house calls and oversaw a medical clinic in Darrington, to ensure its continued existence, but he also conducted medical mission trips as far afield as Guatemala, Haiti and Africa. He even flew in kit planes that he built himself. In spite of his frequent trips, Burgoyne maintained strong ties to the community that had become his home, serving on the Arlington City Council and filling in for other local doctors long after hed officially retired in 1985.
After Bernita died in 1994, Burgoyne met his current wife, Lawanda, to whom Brann expressed her gratitude.
Today we honor a life well-lived, and as our dad continues to make a mark in all of our lives, we celebrate his health, Brann said. After 54 years of marriage to our mom, he found Wannie through Gods grace, and we are so thankful for the enjoyment they share.