Burkett spent life trying to give help to others

Longtime fire chief dies; leaves lasting impression

Those who knew Regi Burkett the best said a couple of traits stood out: Burkett was loyal and always had your back and he fought for what he believed in, even against heavy odds.

Burkett, 62, who spent 39 years as a member of the Century Volunteer Fire Department and served as the department's chief from 1987 to 2017, died Saturday, Aug. 20 at his Century residence.

David Adams, who followed Burkett as Century's fire chief, said he'd known Burkett basically all his life, noting their birthdays were two days apart.

"We grew up a couple of blocks from each other," Adams said. "His dad was our peewee football coach."

The two graduated from Century High School in 1978 and remained close friends. Adams said Burkett was 'born' to be a fireman and loved helping others.

"His daddy was one of the founding members of the Century Fire Department in 1964," Adams said. "Regi really had no choice, he kind of joined by default."

Adams noted it was actually the South Flomaton Volunteer Fire Department at the time and once it was incorporated into Century, Burkett was instrumental in getting the fire station built at its current location.

So, when Burkett turned 18, the minimum age to become a volunteer fireman, he joined.

"He was a good man at heart and believed in doing things right, regardless of the consequences," Adams said. "If he was your friend he would walk on water for you if he could."

Flomaton Utilities Superintendent Shaun Moye credits Burkett for where he is today with the things he learned from Burkett over the years.

Moye said when he joined the Century Volunteer Fire Department Burkett was the chief.

"I learned a lot over the years from him," Moye said. "He fought for the fire department and would go to bat for the fire department every chance he had. He taught me a lot of stuff that I use today. He was a great guy and will be missed."

Flomaton Councilman Jim Johnson graduated with Burkett in 1978 from Century High School noting that the two grew up playing youth football.

Johnson said he felt Burkett was more interested in firefighting than football together.

"Regi loved the fire department," Johnson said. "His dad coached me in peewee football and I have a lot of good memories."

Johnson said when he joined the Flomaton Volunteer Fire Department he went on a lot of calls with Century.

"We went through a lot of tragedies and happy endings through the years," Johnson said. "Regi was dedicated and wasn't afraid to take charge to make sure things were done right."

Flomaton Fire Chief Steve Stanton grew up about 50 yards from Burkett and said beginning at about age 7 the two played in the middle of the street until high school.

Stanton graduated from Century High School in 1975 noting the two played football together from youth leagues to high school.

"We were always great friends," Stanton said.

Stanton said with him at the Flomaton Fire Department and Burkett at the Century Fire Department there was a lot of mutual aid between the two agencies.

"He'd call for help and we went," Stanton said. "I'd call for help and they'd come. We'd call each other on the phone and knew what each other wanted or needed."

"Regi was a great guy and did a lot for Century," Stanton said. "He'll sure be missed."

Visitation for Burkett will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home in Atmore. The funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the funeral home with the Rev. Mitch Herring and the Rev. Tim Floyd officiating. Burial will be held at Beulah Chapel Cemetery.

Burkett is preceded in death by his parents Mr. and Mrs. Carrie B (Mary Lois Ray) Burkett and one sister, Donna Jo Way.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ann Burkett of Century; one son, Ryan (Mariah) Burkett of Century; one daughter, Casey (Stephen) Roach of Grand Ridge, Fla.; three brothers, Roger (Katie) Burkett of Century, Todd Burkett of Century and Trent (Majorie) Burkett of Troy; and five grandchildren.