William "Bill" Boyd Burgett, 1930-2015
William (Bill) Boyd Burgett was born May 29, 1930, in Sparta, OH, to George and Lenora (Boyd) Burgett. Following his graduation in 1948, from Johnsville School, he married the love of his life, Shirley Ackerman. Together they raised five children in the home that Bill built in Richland County. Learning from his parents’ example, Bill made faith and church involvement a priority for his family. He was a lifelong, active member of the Waterford United Methodist Church.
In 1951, Bill combined his love for building things and his need for a job, and started Kokosing Construction Company. During the early years of the business, Bill wore many hats such as estimator, supervisor, laborer and visionary. He surrounded himself with very capable people who also believed in the importance of a job done right the first time. Along with being Kokosing’s founder, Bill served Kokosing as president, chairman of the board and dedicated employee for over 55 years. Over the years Kokosing Construction Company grew, becoming vertically integrated, in-line with Bill’s vision. Today the Kokosing companies employ nearly 3,000 people and include Olen, Kokosing Materials, Kokosing Industrial, McGraw/Kokosing, Corna Kokosing and Integrity Kokosing.
Bill was active in the construction industry at both the state and national levels. Among his fellow contractors, he was known for being a mobilizer and political advocate. He was a past president of the Ohio Contractors Association and the National Utility Contractors Association; past board member of the Ohio Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Fund and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association; and past chairman of Flexible Pavements of Ohio. During his time on the board of Flexible Pavements, he established a scholarship fund that has awarded to date, over 408 scholarships for students in pursuit of a civil engineering degree. Bill was honored to travel to the Soviet Union representing the United States in the Citizen’s Ambassador Program in light construction technology.
Through industry association involvement, Bill was a leader in educating government officials on programs that created useful, productive construction projects. On numerous occasions Bill spoke with members of Congress, taking every opportunity to educate people on our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and how to repair it.
Bill was a beacon for excellence in equipment and maintenance at Kokosing. Under his leadership, along with like-minded employees, Kokosing has always been a pioneer in inventing and building job specific equipment. Over the years, equipment manufacturers valued Bill’s opinion and input on development of new equipment.
Bill was also a respected negotiator. One of his most memorable contributions to the construction industry in Ohio is when he became involved in a game changing union labor negotiation. In the years following, Bill was known for his compromises in labor negotiations that created a healthy balance between management and union.
Throughout his life, Bill believed in giving back to his community, as evidenced by his leadership in building the Fredericktown Community Library, the Waterford Church Family Life Center, Sockman Lake, the Fredericktown Gazebo, Hospice of Knox County and many other local community projects. Bill also gave of his time by serving on several state and local boards, such as the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Knox County Area Development Committee, Elyria Methodist Home, and the United Way of Knox County. In 2009, Bill was given the highest honor of the Free Masons, and was awarded the Thirty-third Degree for outstanding service.
Bill enjoyed many hobbies, such as traveling with his wife Shirley, working in his wood shop, and taking pictures. As a young man, Bill realized his love for horses. He pursued this interest in the mid-1990s, when he purchased Clydesdales. At one point, he owned 20 Clydesdales and showed at many state fairs. Bill also liked spending time on the water and enjoyed boating.
In recent years, Bill found out he had Parkinson’s disease and learned from his doctor that the best way to delay the disease was through exercise. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he chose a proactive approach to the disease and started a Parkinson’s exercise and support group at the Waterford United Methodist church.
Bill went to be with the Lord on Thursday, November 26, 2015. To those who knew him well, he will be remembered for his integrity, perseverance, compassion for others, resilient work ethic and faith in God. To his wife of 67 years, he was a loving husband and a trusted best friend. To his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, he was a role model. He will be greatly missed.