Lt. Colonel Burton Charles Bice (US Army ret) was born May 16, 1937 in Hancock, Michigan, to Carlos Bice and Tracy Yeavello. He graduated from high school in Kaukauna, WI and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 1 year before volunteering for the draft and joining the US Army. After completing Officer Candidate School, he served his country honorably for the next 21 years. His career included tours in Vietnam during the war, earning him a Bronze Star, and in overseas locations, including Japan. There, he met his wife of 50 years, Mako. They married in Bangkok, Thailand and had two sons, Michael and Brian. His career in the Army also provided him the opportunity to finish undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland and earn an MBA from the University of Hawaii. The shared experiences unique to the Army were the foundation for many of his enduring friendships. His service eventually brought him to the Pentagon and other commands in the Washington D.C. area, where he decided to retire his Army uniform and pursue a different career.
A devoted son, he moved the family back to Wisconsin to be closer to his parents, Theresa and Carlos. There, in Appleton, Wisconsin, he pursued a number of other careers, but the desire to own a business became compelling. Burt and Mako opened the first Japanese restaurant in Appleton, which became a local landmark for 15 years. Escaping the harsh winters of Wisconsin and the pull of the milder climate of the Space Coast, they sold the restaurant and moved to Rockledge, Florida. He worked for a few years at The Florida Today newspaper, before he finally retired. He became the Home Owner Association President, getting to know nearly every resident in the community. He developed great friendships with his neighbors. Unfortunately, Mako passed away 5 years ago, which was very hard on Burt. Burt had company, however, by adopting various dogs over the years. He could be seen walking Freddy, Max or Belle around the neighborhood on a daily basis. His last dog, Belle, now lives with Brian in New York City. Burt also stayed busy by volunteering his time with PFLAG, the SpaceX program, and the Patrick Air Force base pharmacy. He performed with a comedic acting group called the Downstagers, and he sang with the Space Coast Chorus barbershop chorus. After many different volunteer roles, he found the one role that gave him the most enjoyment - he interviewed veterans for the Veterans History Project, a program run by the Library of Congress and supported locally by The Red Cross. In less than two years, Burt interviewed almost 140 veterans. Over half of them were veterans of WWII. He was extremely proud of this work and believed it to be a very important and worthwhile cause.
Despite his healthy lifestyle, Burt never fully recovered from a series of brain injuries that started with a minor accident in January of this year, which left him with a concussion. While recovering from this injury, he suffered from bleeding in his brain that was determined to be caused by an aneurysm. The subsequent surgery to repair the aneurysm put him on a path to recovery that he would not fully complete. Ever the fighter, Burt made some significant improvements over the following months. However, one of the after-effects of the brain injury was that he could not adequately protect his airway, which eventually led to pneumonia. He passed away from complications from pneumonia while at Orlando Regional Medical Center on October 2, 2018.
Burt is survived by his two sons, Michael and Brian, his younger brother Donald, his daughter-in-law Heather, his four grandsons Grant, Gavin, Garrett and Grayson, and many more extended family members.
A celebration of Burt’s life will be held at Beckman-Williamson Funeral Home (5400 Village Dr, Viera, FL) on Saturday, October 6th, with a viewing at 4PM and a memorial service at 5PM. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to support Burt’s love of singing through the following page: https://www.gofundme.com/burt-bice-memorial