David Y. Burkett | Trinity University
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David Y. Burkett

Thursday, February 21, 2019

David Y. (Dave) Burkett, former Trinity staff and faculty member died peacefully with his beloved wife, Lynnell, at his side on Nov. 4, 2018, following a long illness.   

burkett wearing headset during broadcastingA native of Vandergrift, Penn., Burkett earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University before service in the United States Air Force brought him to San Antonio. After completing his active duty, he joined the Trinity University staff and faculty in 1960. He began as head of the Trinity University New Bureau in the Office of Public Relations and eventually became assistant then associate director of Public Relations. At the same time, he taught several courses in the Department of Journalism, Broadcast, and Film  (JBF). In 1970, he joined the JBF faculty full-time and worked his way up to associate professor. In addition to traditional journalism classes, he was best known for his popular interpersonal communication course based on a book he co-authored with John Narciso titled Declare Yourself: Discovering the Me in Relationships.  He also was a sponsor of the Triniteers men’s fraternity.

headshot of burkettAlumnus Brad Winters fondly remembers Burkett’s “generosity, infectious laugh, probing Socratic counseling, always sage advice, and unconditional affection,” adding  “He is in my heart and ear every day as I ask ‘WWDD’ in personally and (especially) grammatically challenging moments.” Religion professor emeritus Douglas Brackenridge recalls Burkett as a popular professor who touched the lives of many students  and “ranks as one of the best known and respected professors of his era.”

Burkett’s Trinity era ended in 1980 when he left the University citing a need for change. Although he still found teaching challenging, he said, “After awhile you can get into a comfortable rut.” He remained in the Air Force Reserve and conducted training programs before retiring with 30 years of military service. Blessed with a “radio voice” and quick wit, he later became an inspiring public speaker and traveled across the country as a sought-after motivational trainer.  

He and Lynnell remained happily in their adopted city of San Antonio but traveled widely, most frequently to Vermont and Hawaii, where over the years they established many long-term friendships.   

Predeceased by his brother, Burkett is survived by his wife, his sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, their spouses, and their children.