I told Keith I wouldn’t write a boring obituary for him, so here goes. Although his official name was Harold Keith Burnham, anyone who knew him well, called him Keith. He passed away at home on Friday, August 13, 2021 at the age of 67, surrounded by the family that loved him.
Keith was born October 10, 1953, in Fayette, Missouri, to Clarence Harold and Lanelle Sunderland Burnham and they preceded him in death. He was a 1971 graduate of Fayette High School and got his degree in Law Enforcement from Northeast Missouri State University (Truman State University) in 1977. While at Northeast, he was a member of the Honor Guard program and was in charge of the equine program, which meant he was the only person in the program that knew how to ride a horse and take care of one. On June 17, 1978, he married Conne Berlekamp Tarr in Columbia. He spent most of his career in law enforcement and retired as a sergeant with the Security Department at MU Healthcare. He enjoyed many hobbies, but the highest on the list was deer hunting. If you don’t know, deer season is a national 10-day holiday. Keith would spend several weeks in advance preparing for it and all the guests that would be showing up! Even as he was receiving daily radiation treatments last November, he was building a new free-standing deer stand so he could climb a few stairs instead of climbing a tree ladder. The next on his list of favorites was collecting guns and knives. Pawn shops and gun and knife shows were his go to when looking for that next best gun or knife purchase. When I’d point out a knife for kitchen use, he’d give me the details of why that was a piece of junk and he’d find a better one for me! He was also an arrowhead collector and knew the tribes they belonged to and their purposes. He was a member of the National Rifle Association and strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He was a history buff and looked for 1st edition books when he came across a flea market or secondhand bookstore. He just found a first edition that featured the Burnham family on our last vacation. The last of his hobbies was buying old tractors, especially Farmall, and farm equipment that he was going to resurrect so he could use it at our farm where he grew up. As you can see from the picture, he loved his tractors. Keith had many more hobbies and interests too numerous to list and built a list of friends, each with their own connection to him.
Keith started his medical journey in 1995. Through the years his heart issues worsened until March 2012 when he received a heart transplant, but true to style, he was home and on his tractor a month later. Through the years we as a family had lots of good times. He loved dogs and was known as the “Dog Whisperer” of the family.
Keith is survived by me, his wife, Conne, and our two children, Michael Tarr and Suzanne Bond (Van) all of Columbia; two brothers, Stephen Wayne Burnham (Janet) of Boonville, William Davis Burnham of Fayette; and two grandchildren, Caitlin and Dawson Bond. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews: Juanita Burnham, Deanna Sporleder, Jimmi Jo Burnham, Todd Zumbehl, Amy Nadler, David Allen Berlekamp, and Cathy Chapman.
Funeral Services will be held 11:00 a.m., Saturday, August 21, 2021 at Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel with Pastor James Weaver officiating. Family will receive friends from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 20, 2021 at the funeral home. Burial will follow the service at Columbia Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to Grace Hospice Foundation, c/o Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave., Columbia, MO 65202. Without their assistance, Keith would not have been able to come home for the final days of his life.
On behalf of the family, I want to thank all of our friends and family for their support and friendship through the years.
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