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John Bartlett Burr, M.D.

March 11, 1932 - July 3, 2019

John was born in Oakland, CA on 3/11/1932 to Anthony Allen and Katherine Virginia Burr.  His early life was spent in Alameda, CA and near Salt Lake City, Utah.  He attended Shawnigan Lake Boarding School for Boys from age 12-17 on Vancouver Island, Canada.  John earned his B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of British Columbia and his medical degree there in 1957.  When at UBC he met the love of his life Katharine Rose Goudy and they married on August 28, 1956.
In addition to his wedding that summer, John joined the U.S. Navy and served his medical internship at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA.  After a one-year assignment to Camp Pendleton with the Marines, John returned to Oak Knoll for three years of his orthopedic residency. He studied his fourth year in children’s orthopedics at Blodgett Memorial Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  While a resident he and his fellow residents copied over a thousand photographs of orthopedic pathology.  The collection was enlarged when John studied at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C.  While in Long Beach, CA he taught orthopedic pathology to the residents at the VA Hospital in the evenings.  When he retired he gave the slide collection to OHSU.
From 1964 to 1967 he worked at the Naval Hospital in Long Beach, CA.  Prior to his assignment in August 1967 to August 1968 as Chief of Orthopedics at the U.S. Naval Support Activity (I Corps) in Da Nang, Viet Nam, he was promoted to Commander.  He received the Navy Commendation Medal for meritorious service and then returned to the Long Beach Naval Hospital as Chief of Orthopedics.  After fourteen years of service in the U.S. Navy John resigned his commission in 1970.
After John’s parents divorced when he was ten years old he worked hard at all sorts of odd jobs such as sweeping up the sawdust in the butcher’s shop, mowing lawns, selling day old pies to the workers in the Alameda shipyards.  He even “hawked” his aunt’s weekend transportation tickets to and from Alameda and San Francisco to the sailors during WWII for extra change.  When he was caught selling the tickets he kept changing his location!  Later he worked for P.G. & E. in Oakland ditch digging, welding, and using a jackhammer for four months each summer while going to university.  At the end of the day he worked at the local outdoor movie theater.
In 1970 John and Katharine moved their family, son John Andrew, daughter Alison Rose and son Mathew Bartlett to Salem where John joined a private orthopedic practice with Thad Stanford.  John also served as Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Salem Hospital for a few years and was the Sports Medicine Physician at Willamette University from 1970 to 1983.  He was honored for his service when Willamette named the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center at the Sparks Athletic Center after him.  John was also a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Western Orthopedic Association.  He was greatly respected by his fellow physicians and his patients were the recipients of his skills and gentle bedside manner.  It was not uncommon for John to stop at the home of his elderly patients to check in on them after a major surgery, and sometimes it would be while on his daily run.
Although John was a dedicated physician and worked a great deal, he also found time to enjoy family camping trips.  John taught his children to enjoy and respect the outdoors while teaching them many skills, especially fishing.  He and his close friends and family took many weeklong fishing trips to the Deschutes River and Alaska.
Another of the joys in John's life was the cabin he and Katharine purchased in 1981 on the Metolius River.  John enjoyed fly fishing and became known and loved by many of the locals, some who referred to a prime fishing spot in front of his cabin as “John’s Hole”.
Prior to retiring John and Katharine traveled to Europe and the South Pacific for medical meetings and later for pleasure. 
John was an ardent supporter of Shawnigan Lake School which he credited for giving him his direction in education.  When he inherited his aunt’s estate he donated all the funds to the school in her memory as it was she who paid for his entire pre-university education.  He later served two terms on the Board of Governors and the Shawnigan USA Fund Committee.
John and Katharine’s three children and grandchildren live nearby and all were at his side when he passed peacefully on 07/03/19.  John is survived by his loving wife Katharine, son John Andrew (Linda), daughter Alison Rose Fisher, son Mathew Bartlett (Erika), and grandchildren Austin, Erika, Alexa, Jamieson, Andrew, and Jack; half-sister Jane Ruefenacht (Charlie), and half-brother David Burr (Shauna).  His half-brother Greg Burr predeceased him.
The family would like to thank Dr. Hoa Hoang, the staff at Capitol Manor Memory Care, and Serenity Hospice for the care and support they provided John and his family.  Donations in memory of John may be sent to: The research fund at, Serenity Hospice (6444 Fairway Ave. SE, Salem, OR 97306), or the John Burr Sports Medicine Rehabilitation Center at Willamette University (900 State St., 3rd Floor, Waller Hall, Salem, OR 97301).

The family invites friends to attend a memorial gathering at Montag Center in Baxter Hall on the campus of Willamette University on July 27th from 1:00 to 3:00pm.

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Katharine and family,
I was looking for the obituary of a friend who recently passed and found John's.   I am so grateful to have known John.  John was not just a customer but a good friend. Cathy and I often talk about the time you and John took us to dinner at the Benson Hotel.  I have a picture I keep on my desk at home of all of the GMC suburbans John purchased from me over the years.

  • I will forever  have fond of memories of John and gratitude for his graciousness..  He has left this world a better place.

Paul, Cathy, and Brian Heinrich