He was the son of Harry and Agnes Heikens, born on Feb. 6, 1933, in Spencer.
He grew up as a farm kid, helping with chores and attending Spencer High School.
After graduating, he attended Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, at the age of 16.
His college experience was interrupted when he honorably served as a Personnel Specialist in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. Most of that service was in Japan. Due to other family military service, he came back to Iowa to help with the family farm and then returned to Buena Vista, completing a business degree in 1958.
At Buena Vista, he met Phyllis Brockman and they were married shortly after his graduation.
Later, he would receive the Henry Olson Alumni Award from that institution for distinguished work and volunteer efforts.
After leaving college, he joined American Republic Insurance, starting as a life underwriter in their Des Moines office and remaining a part of the company for 50 years. He rose to the rank of Executive Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer before retiring from the post in 1992.
For the next 16 years, he continued as a member of the Board of Directors of that company. After retiring from full-time work with American Republic, he and Phyllis moved from Ankeny to Carefree, Ariz., where they resided for the rest of his life.
He was an active member of the Desert Hills Presbyterian Church. Burdette was a talented woodworker, as both a furniture maker and bowl turner.
He deeply loved his grandchildren, Shawn and Amber, taking them annually on a southwestern educational trip and enjoying other visits with them.
He collected Native American art, John Deere memorabilia, traveled extensively and was an avid reader.
Burdette is survived by his loving wife Phyllis, as well as two children: daughter, Jennifer Cormack and her husband, Mike, from Des Moines; and son, Laird Heikens and his wife, Michele, from Timnath, Colo. He had two grandchildren, Amber Heikens and Shawn Heikens, who attend the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, respectively. He is also survived by his brother Roger Heikens and sister-in-law Mary, of Milford; his sister Lois Calhoun and brother-in-law William, of Knoxville, Tenn.; and sister Lynne Zimmer and brother-in-law Tom, of Sioux Falls, S.D., as well as many beloved nieces, nephews and special friends.
A celebration of life ceremony honoring Burdette was conducted at Desert Hills Presbyterian Church (34605 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Scottsdale, Ariz. 85262) at 2 p.m. on Sept. 7, 2012. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St, Phoenix, Ariz., 85014-5656.