William “Bill” Burlem, a beloved member of the Coronado community for 62 years, passed away on September 15, 2023, at the age of 94 due to pneumonia. He is now reunited with his late wife of 48 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Burlem (1933-2005), after 18 years of separation. Bill is survived by his two loving daughters, Sandy Burlem (Mark Cheesman) of San Diego and Tina Burlem (Guy Maher) of Solana Beach, his cousins Carol DeuPree of Altadena and Scott DeuPree (Dorene) of Reno, niece Nina Tibble and nephew Derek Cameron, both of Bogota, Colombia and nephew Julian Cameron (Mime) of Charlottesville, VA. He is also remembered fondly by his longtime partner, Patricia Cummins, of Coronado.
Born in Los Angeles during the Great Depression, Bill’s journey through life was marked by resilience and determination. At the age of 15, he found summer employment working on a fishing boat on Balboa Island with additional work as a dishwasher at Kings Fish Restaurant, where he earned 50 cents an hour—a summer filled with fun and the thrill of making substantial money.
Bill’s pursuit of education led him to earn a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Southern California in 1950. He embraced his time as a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and was a proud Life Member of the USC Alumni Association, cheering on the football team every season—Fight On, Trojans!
Bill dedicated five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955. He served as a commissioned officer aboard the destroyer USS Stembel and the submarine USS Segundo, earning his gold “dolphins.” His most remarkable experiences during this time included war patrols in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.
After his honorable service in the Navy, Bill transitioned to a fulfilling career in civil service in 1955, primarily focused on aviation and aerospace. He began as an engineer at the Pasadena Annex of the Naval Ordnance Test Station then relocated to North Island in 1961, where he served as the Naval Air Systems Command Representative, Pacific. Bill’s dedication to his career was further demonstrated when he participated in a Naval Aviation Executive Institute fellowship at the Naval Postgraduate School in Pt. Mugu. There, he achieved a Master of Science degree in Management in 1976. After 24 distinguished years in federal service, Bill retired and embarked on a second career in consulting.
Bill’s absence leaves a void in the hearts of his family and friends. He was known for his intelligence, quick wit, charm, and, above all, for being the best Dad anyone could ask for. His memory will live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. Bill will be interred at Forest Lawn Glendale; per his wishes, there will not be a public memorial service. His legacy will continue to shine brightly in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to have shared their lives with him.
Submitted by the family