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In memoriam: Former Grand Trunk Western leader John Burdakin


John Burdakin, who served as president of Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW) in the 1970s and 1980s, died Sept. 11 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was 92.

Burdakin graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1947 after completing military service. In 1960 and 1961, he managed the Panama Canal Railroad. Burdakin joined the Penn Central Railroad in 1968 as regional manager of the Lakes Region, then in 1971 was named vice president and general manager of Penn Central's Northern Region in Detroit.

Later in 1971, Burdakin joined the Detroit-based GTW as vice president of operations. He became president of the railroad in 1974 and served in the post until 1986. Burdakin retired as vice chairman of Grand Trunk Corp. in 1987.

In 1992, he became the first railroader to be inducted into the Michigan Department of Transportation's Hall of Honor. He volunteered at William Beaumont Hospital and served on the hospital's board for many years.

Burdakin is survived by his wife, Jean; three sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandson. The family plans to hold a celebration of life ceremony Oct. 4 at Northbrook Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills, Mich.

The family asks that memorials be sent to the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Michigan, 26777 Halsted Road, Suite 100, Farmington Hills, MI 48331; or to Northbrook Presbyterian Church, 22055 W. 14 Mile Road, Beverly Hills, MI 48025.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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