McBurney, Willard

MCBURNEY, Jr., Willard Blakeslee Jan. 14, 1931 Aug. 3, 2020 Willard Blakeslee McBurney, Jr passed away peacefully on August 3, 2020 at Piedmont Hospital. He was born on January 14, 1931, the son of Willard Blakeslee McBurney, Sr., and Nannette Griffeth McBurney. Willard, who was known by his friends as Buster, was a committed business and community leader, a devoted Christian, family man and true Southern Gentleman. He was a native of Atlanta and grew up in Brookhaven. He attended North Fulton High School and later graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He was a lifelong Yellow Jacket fan. After Georgia Tech, he served in the Air Force and assumed the leadership of McBurney Stoker & Equipment Company upon his father's death. Willard grew the family's business into a leading engineering and construction firm specializing in industrial steam and power plants. As company grew, the name was changed to The McBurney Corporation and was recognized as a leading provider of biomass energy and power plants around the globe. Willard earned his private pilot's license in 1957 and flying became a passion. He quickly found that flying was the most efficient way to get to and serve his customers. He was an accomplished pilot with over 9,000 hours in the cockpit of single engine, multi-engine and turboprop aircraft. In 1960, Piper Aircraft chose Willard and his new Piper Comanche for an ad in the Wall Street Journal. Willard was a proud member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and had over 40 years of perfect attendance. He epitomized Rotary's motto of "Service Above Self" and served as club President. Willard was a tireless servant leader and served on the boards of many industry and civic associations including Chairman of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association (ABMA), Georgia Tech National Alumni Association Trustee, Georgia Tech School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP) Trustee, President of the Capital City Club, Board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Board of Home Federal Savings Bank, President (Ace) of the Breakfast Club and many others. He shared his faith and love of Jesus by teaching Sunday School for over 50 years and served as the Chairman of the Board of Deacons at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church. He also served as Chairman of the Building Committee for the Family Life Center, which is still in use today. He was known for his quick wit and one-liners which were fondly known as "Bustersisms". Willard was an outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting and fishing. Willard and his buddies in the Peachtree Rod & Gun Club were the first group to stock trout in the Chattahoochee River after the Buford Dam was built. His fishing adventures took him to Argentina, the Bahamas, Canada, Scotland and across the USA. He also loved to bird hunt and was an excellent shot. He made several trips to Scotland with his friends for the "Glorious Twelfth" to shoot red grouse. Willard was an avid golfer and shot his age at 88. He enjoyed playing golf with his beloved wife of 25 years, Darla McBurney. They spent many summers playing golf with friends in the mountains of North Carolina including Wade Hampton Golf Club. Together they traveled the world, visiting all seven continents. Whether it was hunting, fishing, playing golf or traveling, Willard always enjoyed it more when he could share it with his many friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Willard B. McBurney Sr. and Nannette Griffeth McBurney, and wives, Mary Lindsey McBurney and Kelley McBurney. He is survived by his wife, Darla McBurney, his sisters, Nannette Crowdus and Olivia Leon, his sons, Blake (Debi) McBurney, John (Anita O'Neal) McBurney Sr. and Eric McBurney, his step-daughters Lauren (John) McColskey, Katherine (John) Richert and Danelle Bone, his nephew Warren (Lou) Crowdus and nieces Olivia (Wayne) Levy and Carol (Jeff) Barbour. He is also survived by 9 grandchildren, Mary Alice (Dylan) Bonselaar, Sarah Lindsey, Olivia Nannette and John Curtis McBurney Jr., Jamie (Nick) Lopez, William and Ava McColskey, and Ridley and Louise Richert. A private interment will be held for the immediate family, and a celebration of life service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations may be made to the Georgia Rotary Student Program (P.O. Box 61327, Savannah, Georgia 31420) or the Shepherd Center (2020 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30309).