Alumni Award Recipient Dr. L. Daniel Burtner
Dr. L. Daniel Burtner '50
2009 Ripples Medal Recipient
Healthful habits and physical fitness were – and are – more than just words for Dr. L. Daniel Burtner. He made jogging a regular practice. He ran a 5K race three months following a hip replacement, and again five months following heart bypass surgery. And, during his 36-year career as a physician, this 1950 graduate of Bridgewater College missed but one day of work due to illness.
Burtner, who earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1954, is a native of Keezletown, Va. He graduated from Keezletown High School in 1944 and just one week later joined the Army Specialized Reserve Training Program (ASTRP). Following basic training, he was assigned to instruct cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant in November of 1946 and enrolled in the spring 1947 semester at Bridgewater College.
After graduation from Bridgewater and MCV, Burtner served a general internship at Roanoke Memorial Hospital from 1954-55 and his pediatric residency at MCV from 1955-57. In 1954 he married Louise Roller, Bridgewater College Class of 1954. Burtner established his solo practice in Harrisonburg, Va. and also maintained a second office at his home in order to see patients who became ill during the night. His wife, who had earned a bachelor of science in nursing from MCV, worked as his nurse.
“I was available on holidays and Sundays,” Burtner said. “My attitude was that the little babies never picked a time to get sick and I should not pick a time to not be a doctor.”
Burtner also established Pediatric Associates of Harrisonburg and remained that firm’s senior partner until his retirement. He also served as chairman of the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Infection Committee; as physician for a local high-school football team; chairman of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society; as president of the RMH medical staff; and, when asked, presented specific unusual cases to colleagues or nurses’ classes. Vacations for the Burtners were always taken when Burtner could couple them with continuing education opportunities.
Burtner has also been active in the community, building a basketball and tennis court for youth; creating 5-, 6- and 8K cross country courses for middle schools, high schools and colleges; and planting as many as 4,000 trees by hand – an accomplishment that resulted in his receipt of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Good Steward Award in 2005 and the Forestry Best Management Practices (BMP) Award from the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District. He is also secretary of the Harrisonburg Exchange Club.
Burtner, who has been a member of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg for more than 70 years, and his wife, have four children and live in Penn Laird, Va.
In recognition of his distinguished career, his commitment to his community and his devotion to Bridgewater College, the 2009 Ripples Medal is presented to L. Daniel Burtner.