Garry Burnett was the kind of person who made things look easy — whether it was navigating the business world, mentoring students as a college professor, or officiating basketball games on Saturday mornings.
“He was high on integrity, and high on honesty,” his wife, Meredith, said. “He was just smart. He was a rare gem. He never even had a parking ticket.”
Garry and Meredith met in the summer of 1993 at a company picnic. After living in several cities around the country, they eventually settled in Rockville, Md., where they would raise their two daughters. They both worked in sales for many years, but life shifted when Meredith got her PhD, and Garry followed suit. As a business professor, he enjoyed helping prepare the next generation for the real world. This spirit of helping others — from fraternity brothers to biological ones – infused his life. Garry was someone everyone looked up to.
In the fall of 2018, Garry unexpectedly passed away while he and his daughters were visiting his mother in Roanoke, Va. Meredith had been unable to make the trip, and she received a call from Garry’s mother that he had collapsed. Meredith rushed to Roanoke, and when she arrived, the emergency room doctor shared the heart-breaking news that his collapse was related to cardiac issues, and that there was nothing they could do.
Garry’s life could not be saved, but he was able to give back in a big way one last time. He became a cornea donor, and thanks to that generous decision, two women regained their sight. Garry also donated tissue, which helped 12 other people.
“His memory lives on,” Meredith said. “That means a lot. There are people walking around who benefited from his being a donor. He may not be with us physically, but he certainly lives on. I’m just glad that somebody benefited from his passing away so young.”