Gary Leon Burrell, 81, passed away peacefully at his home on June 12, 2019, after an extended battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gary was born on August 24, 1937 to Leslie and Ruth Burrell in Wichita, Kansas. Along with his sister, Dolores, and brother, Don, Gary enjoyed simple family times throughout his childhood, including Sunday afternoon visits with family, picnics at the park, and minor league baseball games. When Gary was nine years old, he gave his life to Christ at a Christian camp in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. For the rest of his life, his faith would play a central role in everything he did.
Gary began dating the love of his life and future bride while he was in college. Gary had known Judith “Judy” Overholt all his life, but he hadn’t considered dating her until he heard her share a message at their home church in Wichita. Her sincerity touched his heart, so he asked after the service to take her out on a date. They married four years later on August 6, 1960, and together, they had three sons: Randy, Jon, and Mike. Their loving marriage of fifty-eight years set an example for their children, grandchildren, and many others.
After Gary graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Wichita State University, he and Judy moved to Hartford, Connecticut where Gary took a job at United Aircraft. Gary earned a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute while in Hartford. As his career progressed, he took on leadership roles at Lowrance Electronics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then at King Radio Corporation in Olathe, Kansas.
In 1989, Gary partnered with his good friend Dr. Min Kao to start the GPS technology company Garmin. The young company grew quickly and experienced more success than anyone initially expected. Today, Garmin employs more than 13,000 people worldwide and has its headquarters in Olathe, Kansas.
Throughout his career, Gary was dedicated to serving the customer, producing excellent products, and continually improving company processes. With his faith always at the forefront, it was common for friends and employees to hear a joyful “Hallelujah!” in response to any good news they gave him. He cared deeply for his employees and had a gift for remembering everyone’s names—as well as the names of their spouses and children.
Gary retired from Garmin in 2002 to spend more time with his family. He loved spending Sunday afternoons with his grandkids and often called or texted them individually to ask how they were doing. Even after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007, Gary savored each moment with friends and family and fought hard to stay as healthy as possible. Gary and Judy enjoyed frequent barbecues and dinners with family, and they continued to worship weekly at their long-time church home Indian Creek Community Church in Olathe, KS, even up to Gary’s last Sunday on earth.
Gary and Judy were life-long fans of gospel singers and songwriters, Bill and Gloria Gaither. One of Gary’s favorite songs was “Because He Lives,” and the words of the last verse and chorus hold particular comfort for his family in this time.
And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Leslie and Ruth Burrell, and siblings, Dolores Brandner and Don Burrell. He is survived by his wife, Judy Burrell; his sons and daughters-in-law, Randy and Marianne Burrell, Jon and Becky Burrell, and Mike and Sheri Burrell; his eight grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any memorial donations be given to Indian Creek Community Church.
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