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Michael Edward Burkill

Posted By Hall-Wynne On May 24, 2008 @ 12:00 am In Obituaries | No Comments

Michael Edward Burkill, 56, died peacefully at home on Saturday, May 24, following a 15-month illness with a GBM brain tumor. He was born January 30, 1952, in Lake Forest, IL, to the late Edward W. and Lillian Veggeberg Burkill. As a teenager he moved to Ormond Beach, FL, where he graduated high school. He then attended Mercer University in Macon, GA, where he met his wife, Ninna. Michael and Ninna remained in Georgia for several years, initially living in Fitzgerald where Michael worked as a teacher of exceptional children. It was in Fitzgerald that they built a small house in the woods, where they were married on April 6, 1974. He and Ninna then moved to Macon where he worked in a hospital operating room and eventually decided to pursue the Physician Assistant program at Duke. Michael and Ninna moved to Durham in 1977 when he was accepted, and to celebrate they spent 6 weeks cruising the Atlantic Coast of Florida in Perlis – the first of many sailboats they would call home.
Upon his graduation from the P.A. program, Michael began his lengthy and successful career as a P.A. in Duke Orthopaedics, Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine. Michael worked with countless physicians and other hospital staff over his career, earning their respect as a compassionate and competent medical provider.
A renaissance man in the fullest sense, Michael found time outside of medicine to pursue his other interests, including sailing, riding motorcycles, surfing, cross-country skiing, and kayaking. At home, he was an inventive cook and jack-of-all-trades. He could re-roof the house, rebuild an engine, or read a new recipe and know that it would taste great! Michael was also passionate about his family, making sure they were included in everything from building an addition onto the house to flipping burgers on the grill.
Michael was an intuitive thinker and natural philosopher who loved to have fun. He had a unique sense of humor – reveling in puns and lapsing into silly accents particularly the infamous Norwegian accent. He always said that laugh lines tell a story as we age, softening the face, adding character and interest.
Many will remember Michael for the outdoor adventures he shared with his friends and family. His wife remembers when they sold their house and moved onto their second sailboat – a 28-foot Sabre named Conduit – with their four-year old son. They cruised down the Atlantic Coast and into the Bahamas, spending six months exploring clear water and sandy beaches. And friends will likely remember semi-annual trips to the Bahamas, annual Fall Camping Trips, West Virginia ski trips, or short trips to the North Carolina coast or mountains. He and Ninna, the consummate organizer, complemented one another to foster a close-knit, multi-generational community.
Thankfully, Michael retired in his early 50s – pre-diagnosis – in order to spend more time being active while he still could. With the support of his family, he purchased their last sailboat, a Cape Dory 27 named Xara, took a seven-week motorcycle trip across the country, and honed his riding skills at the Virginia Int’l Raceway. We are all so grateful that Michael had those years.
Surviving are his wife of 34 years, Ninna Irby Burkill; his children Peter and Caitlin; a foster brother, Richard Moley of Surprise, AZ, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sisters, Betty Griffith and Barbara Baldwin.
A memorial gathering will be held 4:00 PM Monday at the Greystone Inn & Conference Center corner of Vickers & Morehead Aves. Casual attire is desired. Donations in Michael’s memory may be made to: The Preston Robert Tish Brain Tumor Center at Duke, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, or WUNC. Arrangements are with Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. On-line memorials to www.hallwynne.com. Select Obituaries.
The Burkill family expresses deep appreciation to the Preston Robert Tish Brain Tumor team, the Clinic 1L and phlebotomy lab staffs, and the staff and nurses in the Oncology Treatment Center at Duke, because Michael valued and appreciated them all.

Condolences for the family of “Michael Edward Burkill”

Condolence from Lynn Andrews on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

I will always remember Michael as a devoted husband and father and a person who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He set an example for the rest of us about how to live and will be greatly missed.

Condolence from John Friedrick on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

To Ninna:
I grieve with you, knowing how I could not survive well without my Meredith. I pray for you to have strength so that you may smile, laugh and be happy as I remember you during past get-togethers.

Condolence from Cindy Cayton on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am


Heather Cayton and I send our heartfelt sympathy to you and your family during this extremely difficult time. May the memories and good times you had with Michael give you a sense of comfort. Please know that we are thinking of you.

Condolence from Cheryl Luckie on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

Ninna, I just read Michael’s obituary. Wow! What a phenomenal and one-of-a-kind person! I am so sorry for your loss and the loss to all of Michael’s family and friends. The world is definitely a little darker without Michael’s bright light. I wish I could have known him. You and your children are in my prayers. Hopefully all the wonderful memories will sustain you in the days ahead.

Condolence from felicia Coffield on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

My husband Darryl and I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Darryl always spoke so highly of Mike and how he touched so many lives with his great spirit. Please take comfort in knowing that his heart and spirit will live on.

Felicia and Darryl Coffield

Condolence from Candy Howard on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

Dear Ninna, Caitlin, and Peter – Words fail. I am so sorry. Having lost my husband to cancer recently, I know something of what you have been through and am so very, very glad he was able to be at home. Michael was a husband/father/man to look up to. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Condolence from Jay and Susan Levy on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
and youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to desecration
and then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or
from strength to weakness
and often back again;
From health to sickness
and we pray to health again.
From offense to forgiveness
from loneliness to love
from joy to gratitude
from pain to compassion
from grief to understanding
from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat
until looking backwards or ahead
We see that victory lies not
at some high point along the way
but in having made the journey
step by step
a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey;
A sacred journey to life everlasting

Condolence from Alan & Genie McDougal on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

You and the children are in our hearts.

Condolence from Mary Coffman on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

I was so sorry to read about your family’s loss in the obituaries. I’ve known Peter since we were ‘kids’ and as I read about his father, it was not difficult to imagine the stories and adventures you all shared. What a family! What a life! Through his friends and family, Michael will go on to touch and transform this world. I’ll be grieving with you and celebrating the life of that fine father of Peter and Caitlin.

Condolence from Franklin Abbott on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am
Condolence from Lenny & Jean Jordan on May 29th, 2008 12:00 am

Michael will always be in our hearts. Knowing Michael and Ninna since college days at Mercer, and then living close in Durham and sharing times with the kids are cherished memories. Michael taught us so much about living in the moment. We will miss his physical presence, but we are sure he will be with us in spirit at the next “Circle Spit”. We love you Ninna, Peter, and Caitlin. Love, Lenny & Jean

Condolence from Howard T.Williams Jr on May 30th, 2008 12:00 am

It was truely a pleasure working with michael.His knowledge was our knowledge in which he shared so openly,never intimidatingly.If asked the question, Was Micheal liked or respected? The answer would be BOTH!!! PEACE

Condolence from Dana Moran on May 30th, 2008 12:00 am

Dear Ninna and family

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Michael. I will be thinking of you and hoping for peaceful and comforting days ahead as you remember the wonderful man that he was.

Dana Moran

Condolence from sandra bennett on May 30th, 2008 12:00 am

Was touched by Michael’s life in his obituary. You have been a bright spot in my years at Duke, both personally and with my patients and own family. I remember with fondness the times you talked about your adventures with your family. Such memories will sustain you.
I am thinking of you and your family.
Sandy Bennett, retired CRNA

Condolence from Charles Nordan & Family on May 30th, 2008 12:00 am

Ninna knows how much we loved Michael. We were so fortunate to have been friends with him and to have a splendid time with him last month. Michael always did things his way to the very end. With much love and respect.
Charles Nordan

Condolence from Jack Fountain on May 31st, 2008 12:00 am

Our Family is with you. I am so glad we were able to visit and share before this last episode began.
As Always
Jack and Family

Condolence from Jen Anderson on May 31st, 2008 12:00 am

It was wonderful and fun working w/Michael and I wish his family peace and my family’s prayers during this time.

Condolence from Peter Brown on June 1st, 2008 12:00 am

Ninna, we were out of the city all last week–just got home and got your message. Hard to believe–hard to lose him–hard, I know, for him to let go. You have our love and respect. We will call later. Peter & Bette-Lou

Condolence from Nancy Webb Potter on June 2nd, 2008 12:00 am

Dear Ninna and Family,
Let the love of friends and family, along with all the wonderful memories, sustain you through the coming months. I will be thinking of you.
Nancy Potter

Condolence from Kathleen C. Lord on June 2nd, 2008 12:00 am

Nina, Jack and I are thinking of you and Mike as the sailing season starts. He’s now enjoying gentle winds and clear skies. Much love, Jack & Kathleen Lord

Condolence from Michelle Merritt on June 2nd, 2008 12:00 am

My prayers and thoughts are with your family at this time.

Condolence from Don Scott on June 2nd, 2008 12:00 am

I am so sorry for your loss. I know this is a very difficult time for you and your family. You have the most amazing support system. You have lost an even more amazing husband/father. Many kind and loving thoughts, Don

Condolence from Jane Roth on June 3rd, 2008 12:00 am

We are thnking of you, Peter and Caitlin constantly. I understand Michael’s service was a wonderful dedication of an extraordinary person.
With love and affection-
Jane, Jack, Lucy and Annie

Condolence from Tom Hickey on June 4th, 2008 12:00 am

Michael certainly lived life to its fullest- with a love of being alive that we all could exemplify.

Condolence from Rona E. Hodge, MD on August 23rd, 2009 12:00 am

Blessings to your family as they try to carry on without you. Your long lost classmate from PA school.

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