Glenn Edward Burghardt, 89, died peacefully in his home in Oakdale, California with his daughter Kathleen Burghardt-Cobb at his bedside.
Glenn was born in Merced, CA and grew up in Oakland, CA where Glenn attended grammar school becoming the 6th grade class president, later attending Frick Jr. High School and then Fremont High School. Glenn met his wife, Laura in high school and they both graduated in 1951. Glenn went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley where he majored in Business Administration.
Glenn’s interests in life have mainly centered around the natural sciences. Glenn loved animals and enjoyed raising numerous pets throughout his childhood. During high school, a friend introduced him to the tropical fish hobby. This hobby became his future occupation in various forms.
Glenn entered active duty in the Naval Reserve, serving until his honorable discharge in 1957. Upon getting out of the Navy, Glenn joined his father, Edward H. Burghardt in the pet business and operated a combination animal import, tropical fish hatchery and retail pet shop called the Exotic World of Pets in East Oakland. His reputation as an exotic pet importer led to his regular television appearances in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Glenn would appear in short TV segments on Channel 2 as “Bwana Glenn” and introduce various exotic animals and discuss them on television. Glenn had several exotic pets of his own including a lion and a 36-inch female crocodile which was used to snip the ribbon in a ribbon cutting ceremony at South Shore Shopping center in Alameda, CA. This crocodile was later donated to the Steinhart Aquarium.
In 1962, Glenn was requested to join the staff of the Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco as an Aquatic Biologist. Glenn held several positions during his time at Steinhart. Glenn was a senior aquatic biologist in charge of the fresh-water department of the aquarium, Personnel Manager and later becoming the Assistant Director of the world’s largest public aquarium. These positions culminated in the temporary duties of Director due to the death of the famous TV Host and Aquarium Director, Dr. Earl S. Herald.
Glenn married Laura Elizabeth Cantrell in 1963. Glenn and Laura started their home in San Leandro, CA and remained there with their 3 children, Michael, Patricia and Kathleen until a move in 1975 took them to the country community of Valley Home in the outskirts of Oakdale, CA, fulfilling a life-long dream to own a ranch. Glenn and Laura with their two daughters, and Glenn’s parents Edward and Velma Burghardt moved to the ranch. Son Michael was in the US Navy at the time of the move.
Glenn set up a commercial tropical fish hatchery and business was excellent until a drought in 1977. Glenn went on to work at the Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery in Oakdale. Glenn and Laura made numerous friends and joined many clubs and organizations. Glenn soon became president of the Oakdale Kiwanis Club and was later joined by his father Edward Burghardt and son Michael Burghardt marking a 3-generation family membership of the Kiwanis Club.
In 1978, Glenn was recalled to active duty in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Reserve Veteran Recruiter. He changed positions in 1982 to Program Manager of the Navy’s college scholarship program, NROTC. Glenn and his son Michael, (Navy’s nuclear power program recruiter) were able to travel together on recruitment trips throughout California.
You can’t discuss Glenn Burghardt without acknowledging his love and dedication to the City of Oakdale and the community of Valley Home. Glenn was an avid historian and loved to share his knowledge of history with everyone he encountered. This passion for history resulted in Glenn and Laura founding the Oakdale Historical Society, the Oakdale Museum and the first Oakdale Museum Commission. Both Glenn and Laura volunteered their time for decades of service to the Oakdale Museum and they loved to share their knowledge with visitors, various youth groups and the local community. Glenn was a volunteer Curator of the Oakdale Museum for decades and also President of the Oakdale Historical Society researching and preserving the history of Oakdale and Stanislaus County areas. Glenn’s commitment to organizing Oakdale’s 125th Anniversary celebration earned him double nomination for Oakdale Citizen of the Year. Glenn was nominated no less than 3 different times for Citizen of the Year, once being nominated together with his wife Laura. Glenn received the Citizen of the Year Award in 1997. Glenn and Laura were both very involved in the preparation for the annual 1890’s Day Events. Glenn would share his wealth of historical knowledge as a guest speaker/performer on the Sierra Dinner Train in Oakdale.
Glenn’s love of country and civic duty was on display each year as he coordinated and presented the annual Memorial Day service at Citizens Cemetery in Oakdale, CA. Glenn enlisted the help of his entire family, friends and civic organizations of Oakdale to accomplish a beautiful memorial service each year, until his health declined. He also enjoyed mentoring many youths as a 4-H leader. He was a Friends of the Library member, a member of the Oakdale’s Design Review Commission, Valley Home Park board and served on numerous boards in the Oakdale and Valley Home communities.
His passion for nature guided him and Laura to join the Oakdale Garden Club. They both held the position of President of the Oakdale Garden Club at different times. Glenn and Laura both received OGC lifetime memberships and Glenn also held the position of Director of the Valley Lode District of the CGCI. Glenn Burghardt was the first male to hold this position. Glenn and Laura both grew up with family trips to Big Basin State Park. They shared a special love for this park and the memories it held.
Glenn was an avid reader and also a published author. Glenn and Laura Burghardt co-wrote a book on West Coast Chitons which has inspired several generations of other chiton collectors and researchers. Glenn and Laura have been honored by having a Chiton named after them. Glenn has also written a book “Iguanas as Pets” along with several published articles in the Of Sea and Shore magazine.
Throughout their almost 6 decades together, Glenn and Laura enjoyed their life sharing many of the same interests and hobbies which made life fun. They were truly an inspirational couple. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Glenn is survived by Michael Burghardt (son), Patricia Ordway (daughter), Kathleen Burghardt-Cobb (daughter), Glen Cobb (son-in-law), grandchildren: Stefanie Tolleson, TJ Tolleson (grandson-in-law), Karilyn Ward, Josh Ward (grandson-in-law), Jeffrey Burghardt, Chad Burghardt, Toneille Burghardt (granddaughter-in-law), Ryan Burghardt, Jon Aether, and Mitchell Cobb. Great grandchildren: Kaili Ward, Jorianna Tolleson, Joanne Tolleson, Logan Burghardt and Clark Burghardt.
Visitation services will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Oakdale-Riverbank Memorial Chapel, 830 West F Street, Oakdale, CA.
A Gravesite Funeral ceremony will be held on Thursday, January 12, 2023 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, 701 East J Street, Oakdale, CA.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
The Riverbank (Calif.) News
Jan. 11, 2023