Whatever Happened To ... ?


July 12, 2008|By Jacques Kelly

After a lengthy career as an educator, Calvin W. Burnett can now read all the books he's always wanted to. He's retired and living in Westminster. The grass does not grow around his feet.

"I've now got the time to work around the house and sort out a lifetime of memorabilia," he said. "I've had a chance to transition from the world of government and administration to a real home life."

Burnett's last job was as Maryland's secretary of higher education. From 1970 to 2003, he was president of what is now Coppin State University.

He once walked from his West Baltimore campus to the Inner Harbor five times a week for exercise. Now he puts in more than 90 minutes daily on his stationary bicycle and treadmill. He is also enjoying home landscaping - his house sits on 4 acres. Some days he just cuts the grass.

His wife of 25 years, Gretta Burnett, a retired Prince George's County elementary school principal, says living in Carroll County is "just wonderful." They are raising a 17-year-old grandson, William "Randy" Powell.

He's also found the time to read. He has recently completed Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

"I try to get a new book every week to read. I now also have the time to read some of the classics that eluded me as a younger man. Or I go back and reread them. You really don't always understand them when you are in college," he said. "I am at a place in my life when I can truly understand most of the complexities of Hamlet."

He also reports that he "got myself back into decent health." He underwent successful surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center for a painful back condition in March.

"I'm happy to say that I'm well on the road to recovery," he said.

He and his wife keep in touch with friends and have been visiting relatives in Dallas and Detroit and Los Angeles. "As you grow older, your family grows more important," he said.

He also offers some advice: "If I were left on a desert island, I'd want two books to read: The Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare."

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