Leonard Everette Burnett-The Orlando Times
Leonard Everette Burnett: Creative Entrepreneur Mentors Many
BY DR. BARBARA J. MCLEAN-SMITH
Photo Cutline: Leonard Burnett
ORLANDO - Leonard Everette Burnett, A mighty man of valor is he. Most often referred to and addressed as “Len Burnett”. He is a man well known for his entrepreneurial spirit and acumen. He has been living in the Orlando area for the past 30+ years. Len was born in San Antonio, TX in 1939 to Audrea and Booker T. Burnett. He lived in Corpus Christi, TX with his four sisters; Betty, Joan, Amarylis and Martha. Len was the second child and the only boy. Up until the age of twelve, he suffered severely with asthma that stopped him from participating in lots of fun and games that required stamina and energy. In spite of his sickliness, he fondly reports of those asthma attacks, the care he received from his mother, and of the delectable breakfast treats he was provided as he recuperated from each attack.
Len recalls that he and his family moved from Texas to San Diego, CA when he was around 15 years old. Len and his sisters were enrolled in the San Diego School System where he graduated from Lincoln Senior High School. Once he graduated, he attended what was then known as the San Diego Junior College. After only a year at the Junior College playing football, Len transferred to the University of Oregon and played college football with the Oregon Ducks for three years.During his college football days, Len was scouted but never drafted. Len earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in 1961.Dauntless and determined, Len continued to show his athletic prowess. As a “free agent”, Len was called, at a time when he least expected, to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, he obliged and played heartily until a knee injury cut his pro-football career with the Steelers short.
Len’s degree in education led him to teach in the Cleveland Ohio Public School Systemfor approximately four years. Len also served as an investigator for the United States Department of Labor for three years.
Len met and married Charlotte Ann CarterBurnett in 1963. Later relocating, Len earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Pittsburgh. While at “Pitt”, Len’s roommate Brady Keys, an enterprising young man,had learned that funding was being awarded to minorities interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Keys and Burnett ventured into the franchise business opening and operating 12 Burger King Restaurants throughout Detroit, MI and concessions in the Orlando International Airport. Len along with Brady, later known as the “Keys Group”were owners of “All Pro Fried Chicken” and Burger King from 1985 through 1990 until they sold their franchises.
Being a well-rounded person with many talents, Len continues to amaze all who come to know him. Len’s mind has the most precise recall anyone can imagine. You can tell him something one time and he will turn it into a story worthy of publishing. This skill has aided him as he creativelywrites short stories, rap songs, poetry, a cook-book and an unpublished book entitled, “That’s My Mama”. He has written and recorded two songs that may be found on I-Tunes music.
Len is a mentor to many and has assisted countless beginning entrepreneurs develop their businesses to include writing a business plan to start-up; and distribution of their products.
As an accomplished motivational speaker,he speaks at diverse church functions, business meetings and civic gatherings. He is very civic minded and has served on the boards of the African American Chamber of Commerce, TheOrlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Covenant Community Development Corporation.
Len calls his family his first love. However, he said that his second love was The New Covenant BaptistChurch of Orlando. He was baptized at New Covenant in 1999 and “My love for the Lord and mypersonal growth and Christian development soared”, he said. He has served as president of the Men’sMinistry for 13 Years and is a member of numerous other church ministries. Len writes a monthly Men’s Ministry Newsletter that began during the height of the Pandemic. His goal was to keep the men connected and aware of the news in the life of the church. He is fond of saying, “Ialways look forward to attending church services and other activities at The New covenant BaptistChurch of Orlando with expectation andanticipation…and I am never disappointed.” Len is a hopeless optimist and believes that the “gift of hope is embedded in each of us. He goes on to say “Life is going to throw many dark, complex and difficult problems at you. So, you must be hopeful in each situation to come through victorious. I suggest that you arm yourself with scripture (bible verses) to use to rekindle hope in each situation.”
“Life will have obstacles. Overcome them! “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Life will present dangers. Face them! “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear…” Psalm 27:1
Life will have many temptations. Resist them! “…Get thee behind me, Satan:” Matthew 16:23
Life will present sorrows. Perk up! “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning.” Psalm 30:5”
Len and his wife Charlotte Carter Burnett of 58 years are the proud parents of three, adult sons, Leonard Jr. (Lenny), Todd and Brandon (Nichole), all accomplished in their own right; grandparents to six grandchildren, Jessica, Lindsay, Len III, Rani, Rylie and London; and two great grandsons, Royal and Zion.