Dick Burkhalter Helped so Many Experience the Joy of Giving

(Courtesy Of Bruce Burkhalter)
Dick Burkhalter was honored in March as Rotarian of the Decade for his 31 years of service. He passed away on April 5.

   Richard Louis “Dick” Burkhalter, 87, a longtime resident of Orinda, passed away April 5, 2021, after a short illness, at his home, surrounded by his family.
   Married in 1962, Dick and Betty Burkhalter moved to Orinda in 1970 so their children could attend Orinda’s “great public schools.”
   Dick helped so many experience the joy of giving and doing for others through his Rotary work, where he found “the avenue to give back to the community that has given so much to our family,” and his extensive involvement in such programs as the Orinda Community Foundation, Grandfather’s Club of America, Lamorinda Village Formation Committee, Orinda Chamber of Commerce, Orinda Public Works Aesthetic Review committee and Shingletown Lions Club. He was also a volunteer driver for Seniors Around Town program.
   Honored in 2014 as Orinda’s Volunteer of the Year, Dick was praised by The Orinda Association President Bill Waterman: “To me, he personifies the real spirit behind the Volunteer of the Year award…he always has been hands-on, takes the initiative and always seems ready to pitch in and help.”
   On March 24, 2021, Dick was honored as Rotarian of the Decade for his 31 years of service. At that time, Mayor Amy Worth decreed that day would be known as “Dick Burkhalter Day” in the City of Orinda.
   “He has been my mentor,” said Rotary President Ken Jew. “To many of us in the club and outside, Dick is Mr. Orinda Rotary. He has been our ambassador to the world, epitomizing what it means to be a Rotarian.”
   Dick was in charge of Rotary’s annual Spring Egg Hunt, headed Rotary’s team for Orinda Action Day and shepherded the club’s electronic scoreboard at Wilder Fields.
   Dick travelled extensively on behalf of Orinda Rotary in support of various international projects, including Polio Plus and Operation Smile, which raises funds for surgery to repair cleft palates in children.
   He helped create and organize Soccer 4 All with Orinda Rotary and The Orinda Association. This program collected thousands of soccer jerseys, shorts, socks and cleats, from Bay Area leagues, then matched individual donations to make full team uniform sets. He personally delivered these uniforms to underfunded youth soccer programs in Mexico, witnessing the excitement of the boys from the small towns lined up for their uniforms and the pride they showed looking like a real team for the first time.
   “His beautiful smile, along with his ever enthusiastic and positive self, when he visited us at the Orinda Volunteer Center, always brightened our day,” said Cathy Goshorn. “Sometimes he brought us donated coats for the One Warm Coat program that he also spearheaded with Rotary, or was dropping off more soccer uniforms, or just dropping by to say hello.”
   Dick gave his time, talent and treasure to the community he loved. The Burkhalter Foundation supported many of The Orinda Association’s programs and events.
   “Dick was the heart and soul of this community, and we are especially fortunate that he and Betty chose to live here and share his abundant energy and leadership with us,” said Marie Waterman.
   He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Betty Burkhalter, son Bruce Burkhalter, daughter Lynda Burkhalter and her husband David Blackmon, three grandchildren, Hannah, Brian and Allison, daughter-in-law Barbara Burkhalter and sister Suzanne Carder. 
   “We are not planning a memorial,” said Bruce Burkhalter. “The Rotary Club Zoom meeting of March 24 served as that to us. All Dad’s friends and family were there, and they said how much he meant to them, which he really appreciated.”
   In honor of Dick’s memory, the family encourages people to volunteer or donate to an organization they value.

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