MONROE, LA. — BURKETT – David Gary, 61, Monroe, La., passed away April 26, 2012, in Monroe, La., after a courageous battle with leukemia. Born Oct. 19, 1950, in Johnstown, to Donald Ray Burkett and Nina Jane Burkett. David spent his early years in Johnstown. Being the son of a schoolteacher who stressed education, he gave up his dream of playing professional baseball at his mother’s urging and pursued a medical degree. That decision would define the remainder of his life. Mothers truly do know best as being a physician was his destiny. He received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Albright College, Reading, Pa., in 1972. He graduated from Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, in June of 1976. After graduating medical school, David joined the U.S. Air Force, which took him to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, in 1976. His superior training in the Air Force from 1976 to 1982 prepared him for the career that was to come. Board certified in internal medicine, he began his career in emergency department medicine but soon shifted to pursuing cardiovascular medicine. He returned to school at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, Mass., and UCLA School of Medicine in Long Beach, Calif., where he was trained in interventional cardiology from 1985 to 1988. After completing his training, he moved to Monroe, La., in 1988 becoming the first interventional cardiologist in this area. While he was afflicted with many health conditions, first cervical spine stenosis in 1996, and then myelodysplasia in 2010, both of which affected his mobility, his drive and ambition always sustained. When his physical limitations interfered with his ability to provide interventional cardiac care, he propelled himself into the newest diagnostic modality of cardiac computed tomography. He faced adversity with a strong Christian faith even though the odds were against him always stating that he “had not yet begun to fight.” His greatest love was his family and his patients. He was a truly caring and compassionate human being and had everything required to be a great physician. He was born with innate knowledge which only expanded with years. He prided himself on the care he delivered to each and every patient. His motto was “treat every patient as if they were family.” He sacrificed so many things to ensure that his patients were properly cared for. He displayed these traits in both his professional and personal life. His family always came first. Nobody in the family ever had to worry because David would ensure that all needs were met. His care, compassion and extraordinary medical care is validated by his patients, many of whom he has cared for since his arrival to Monroe in 1988. Through thick and thin and in sickness and in health, he had developed a sort of marriage with his patients, which they and their family will never forget. David saved many, helped many and comforted even more. His life will be remembered and celebrated by many for years to come. As a father of four and grandfather of eight, he was the greatest ever imaginable. He provided unconditional love to all and family was the most important aspect of his life always. He was the rock and guiding light of his family forever stressing education, compassion and leading a Christian life. Left to honor his memory is his loving wife, Judy Isley Burkett; children, David Scott Burkett, and wife, Ashley Burkett, Monroe, La.; Laurie Burkett Smiley, and her husband, Shane Smiley, Monroe, La.; Courtney Burkett Schindler, and her husband, Kevin Schindler, San Antonio, Texas; and Brittany Colleen Burkett, San Marcos, Texas; grandchildren, Taylor Alexis Smiley, Katherine Elizabeth Burkett, Camille Claire Burkett, Ella Scott Burkett, Marshall Henry Burkett and Benjamin David Burkett, all of Monroe, La., and Madison Grace Schindler and Sophie Rose Schindler, San Antonio, Texas; uncle, Philip Cook, Loysville, Pa.; and a host of cousins and relatives in Pennsylvania. His parents, Donald Ray and Nina Jane Burkett; grandparents, William and Beatrice Varner Himes and Gary and Bessie Burkett; aunt, Joyce Cook; and uncle, William Hines III preceded him in death. Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Monroe, La., the Rev. J. Roddy Taylor, officiating. Visitation was held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Mulhearn Funeral Home, Highway 165 N, Monroe. Online registry and condolences at www.mulhearnfuneralhome.com. Pallbearers will be Prentice Norred, David I. Burkett, Rick Pettis, Karl Kaufman, Beau Roberson, Brandon Huff, Bryan Adams and William Harris. Honorary pallbearers are Sonny Sumlin, Doug Cook, Gus Campbell, Carl Aron, Mark Cook and Tom Cook. A special thanks is given to his office staff who are loved like family and the nursing staff of the CCU at St. Francis Hospital. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the good race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:23.