Newton Burkett

Obituary of Newton Jones Burkett

Newton J. Burkett, Jr., Banker, Educator Dies at 83 Newton Jones Burkett, Jr., a former Elizabeth Board of Education member whose lifelong commitment to civil rights and social justice empowered minority business owners and inspired college students, died of cardiac arrest on November 3rd at Trinitas Regional Medical Center. He was 83. Raised in McKinney, Texas, Mr. Burkett graduated from Rice University in 1961 with a degree in philosophy. He helped organize sit-ins in Houston before leaving the segregated South to move to the Northeast. In Elizabeth, New Jersey, he married and started a family. Throughout his life he found ways to support community empowerment in Elizabeth and to take a stand against injustice. Through his consulting firm, The Burkett Organization, he secured financing for small businesses -- many of them minority-owned -- while committing himself to the cause of civil rights. "He marched in the streets of Newark, carrying me on his shoulders, after the riots in the late 1960s," said his eldest son, WABC-TV correspondent N. J. Burkett. "And my father lost his seat on the Board of Education in the 1990s after he suggested removing Columbus Day from the public school calendar. He was decades ahead of his time." Mr. Burkett was a founding member of the Union County Chapter of the ACLU and an active member of the Elizabeth Branch of the NAACP. He was elected to the Elizabeth Board of Education and served from 1993-96. He is a former Chairman of the Elizabeth Development Company and served on the Board of Trustees of Trinitas Health Foundation from 2009-19. For two decades, Mr. Burkett was a devoted team leader at the Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen. In 1968, Mr. Burkett was a Vice President of Broad National Bank (now Santander Bank) in Newark and, later, in 1979, a vice president of The Money Store in Springfield. In his retirement, he taught courses in inquiry and research at Kean University, where he had earned a Master's degree. He taught English courses at Seton Hall University and New Jersey City University. "My father was a people person who had such an uncanny knack for seeing the good and the potential in everyone he met," said his youngest son Steven Burkett, Lockheed Martin Chief Architect for Advanced Programs. "He always had a smile on his face and was genuinely interested in getting to know everyone he met. I learned so much about life, relationships, and business from watching how my dad went about life, and particularly how he treated others." Mr. Burkett was a distance runner who finished three New York City Marathons from 1987-1989. He was an avid bird-watcher and his lifelong love of learning was an inspiration to all who knew him. Mr. Burkett is survived by his wife, Barbara and his sons, Newton Jones (N. J.) Burkett, III of New York City and Steven Allen Burkett of Palm Bay, FL, his sister, Lucy B. Hoopes of Baltimore, MD, his daughters in-law, Margaret R. Burkett, Lori A. Burkett and Marian Burkett, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Another son, Robert Orin Burkett, predeceased Mr. Burkett in 2009. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 10:30AM at First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Newton J. Burkett, Jr. Endowment for At-Risk Teen Patients at Trinitas Regional Medical Center using the following link: https://www.genestor.com/TrinitasDonations/SecuredNJB.aspx Arrangements are being handled by August F. Schmidt Memorial Funeral Home of Elizabeth (908) 352-2268
Saturday
4
December

Memorial Service

10:30 am
Saturday, December 4, 2021
First Presbyterian Church Of Elizabeth
Broad Street
Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States