William “Bill” Burkhart, 65, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at his Spearfish Canyon home in the beautiful Black Hills. His funeral service will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at the United Methodist Church, Dell Rapids. Interment will be in the Logan Reformed Cemetery. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 with the family present from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Kahler Funeral Home, Dell Rapids.
Bill was born on June 2, 1949, to Bette (Crisp) and Andrew Burkhart. Bill grew up on the family farm in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. He graduated from Dell Rapids High School in 1967, and he earned an Organic Chemistry degree from South Dakota State University in 1971. He was a true “Jackrabbit” in every sense of the word contributing not only his time, but also scholarships to the Foundation.
Bill was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. His pilot training was at Sheppard AFB in Texas from where he obtained top honors in his class. Bill saw the world in an illustrious way by visiting over 78 countries during his service. Bill was a F4 fighter pilot instructor earning many awards and honors including the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Small Arms Expert Pistol Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award, National Defense Service Medal, Oversees Service Long and Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and member in support of Operation Desert Shield from August 2, 1990, to November 30, 1991. He retired from the Air Force in 1991 with over 4,000 flight hours.
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 1991, he traveled to Austrailia. Upon his return to South Dakota, he decided to enroll at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where he earned a master’s degree in Technology Management. While in Rapid City, he fulfilled his dream of building his “Little Log Cabin” in Spearfish Canyon with his best friend and companion, Dixie D. Serr. This was truly a labor of love in the building and completion of his cabin. In 1997, Bill went to work for Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona, which led to a second career in the missile field. He retired a second time to Spearfish Canyon after thirteen years in Arizona.
Bill never met a person that didn’t become a friend of his. He truly cherished his many friends and family he had throughout the world.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and an infant brother.
Sharing his life is his companion, Dixie and her family, Andy, Stacy, Mason and Taylor Schultz of Rapid City; his brother, Dr. Tom and Jeanette Burkhart of Sioux Falls; his nephew, Matt (Tammy) Burkhart of Sioux Falls and their family, and his niece, Julie (Brian) Van Dam and their family of Baltic.