ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Coyne G. Burnett passed away peacefully Tuesday, May 20, 2008. He was surrounded by his wife of 58 years Betty, his five children, and his grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
He was born in Missoula in 1926 to Paroda Fern Graham Burnett and William Thomas Burnett and joined sister Dorothy Grace and brother Doyle Graham in a small house.
In 1945, he graduated from Missoula County High School, although not with his classmates. That spring he had enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force Cadet Program with the promise that he could complete his education before being called up. He was called up in March, but the Cadet Program and World War II ended before Coyne's training was completed. He returned to Missoula and attended Montana State University, later called the University of Montana. After graduating from MSU in 1951 with a bachelor of music education degree, Coyne began a teaching career. He earned his master's in music education at MSU in 1954. He taught music until retiring in 1986.
Coyne began singing in the Methodist church choir when he was in seventh grade. Church choirs and singing continued to play an important role throughout his life. He was a soloist or director for 10 congregations in three states. After one rehearsal in January 1949 at the Missoula First Methodist Church, the director announced that a university girl needed a ride back to campus. Coyne volunteered to be her driver. Betty Lou Greetan and Coyne Burnett were engaged that spring and married Aug. 28. Betty often said, "He took me home that night, and has been taking me home ever since."
After teaching in Deer Lodge, and Coeur d'Alene, he moved to Ellensburg, Wash., in 1957, where he taught at the high school and middle school for 29 years.
Survivors include his wife Betty Lou Burnett; children Diane (Dennis) Christopherson, Howard Burnett, Tom Burnett, Heather Taylor, C. Glenn Burnett; grandchildren, Ryan Christopherson, Melee Christopherson, Theron Tyler, Amanda Stallman; greatgrandchildren Hannah Tyler and Brady Christopherson.
Following a small family memorial service, his friends and former students are invited to a celebration of his life at 1 p.m. June 21, at the First Lutheran Church, 512 N. Ruby, in Ellensburg, Wash.