Alan Green “Cotton” Burkhart


Alan Green “Cotton” Burkhart was born February 3, 1941 in Lancashire, England. He passed away Monday, August 29, 2022 in his sleep at his home in Waco, TX.

Memorial Service: To be held at Lake Shore Funeral Home, Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Reception: Following the service at Vitek’s Market to celebrate the life of a great man and prideful American.  Click here to View the Live Stream of the Service.

Decidedly proud and thankful to be an American, he was naturalized in Del Rio, Texas in 1971 after immigrating to the United States at the age of six. Once on U.S. soil, he pursued the American Dream with an unparalleled work ethic that began as a child in Ft. Worth. From the age of 11, he took on various jobs, often at night, to assist his family in making house payments and to help provide them with food to eat. From there, he worked relentlessly to escape abject poverty, later saying, “I know what it’s like to be poor, and I didn’t want any part of it anymore.”
After graduating from Arlington Heights High School in Ft. Worth, Cotton put himself through TCU where he met and ultimately married the love of his life, Joy Briere of Pecos, TX, in 1964. They were married for 56 years until she passed away in January 2022. As a young husband, Cotton bought out the Opti-Lens Company and founded Burkhart Contact Lens in the early 1970s. For over 40 years, he successfully restored the eyesight of tens of thousands of Texans until he retired in 2012 to attend to Joy in the waning years of her life. During his professional life, he served as the President of the Contact Lens Society of Texas and was blessed to work with some of the finest ophthalmologists in North Texas, to whom he was exceedingly grateful for helping to support his family and allowing him to enjoy a long and rewarding career.
Cotton’s hard work paid dividends for him and for the two generations that have followed him. He accomplished what so many long to do – giving his children a far better life and childhood than his own – all the while instilling in them the values of self-reliance, hard work, a “can-do” attitude and respect for others no matter their station in society. He always said, “It doesn’t cost you a nickel to shake someone’s hand and say hello.” In addition to striving to be the best he could be at fatherhood, Cotton was blessed with an expansive network of friends and colleagues he amassed with principles he modeled until the day he died – kindness, selflessness, humility and fierce loyalty. He also loved the Waco community, was a member of the Hedonia Club of Waco and was an original member of Partners – Friends of McLennan County – a group of exceptional men whose friendship he enjoyed for over 30 years. If there ever was one with a servant’s heart, Cotton had it and thrived off of helping others. No matter the ask or the task, the sacrifice of his personal time, or cost, he did it. And, he loved it. If asked what his legacy would be, Cotton would avoid accolades and count his treatment of his fellow man, his relationship with his family, and his legions of friends as his cherished assets.
Cotton’s relationship with the Lord developed in his adult years and was personal, but professed to his family. Over the past several years, he often said, “If I die tomorrow, I’m okay with that. The Lord has given me a wonderful life. And, I’ve asked Him to remember me when I die.” Cotton Burkhart leaves behind a proud family who is forever indebted to him – his son Chuck (Betsy, Will and Ben), his daughter Allison Webb (Hulon, Chandler and Trey), his brothers Roy Burkhart (Pat and Shelley) and Eddie Burkhart (Sonja, Shawn, Andrew and Courtney) – along with countless Texas one-liners that entertained the masses over his 81-year lifetime.
His final years were blessed by the presence and dedication of his caregiver, Candice Goodman, who with a Saint’s heart and never-ending patience, strove to comfort and show him unwavering attention. In lieu of flowers or other fleeting perishables donated in his memory, Cotton would simply ask that you hug your friends and family and cherish your time with them. If bound and determined to donate to something, he would tell you to “give some walkin’ around money” to Fuzzy Friends Rescue in Waco, delivered in that all too familiar Texas twang.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Cotton such VERY special friend, ever giving friend, full of life and always enjoy to share conversation. I will always remember and cherish our Partner events and fun serving others.
    Enjoy cooking and sharing your kindnesses in Heaven.
    Ken S.

  2. I enjoyed working with Cotton on challenging contact lens patients since 1989! He would always find some sort of solution! He was the best contact lens technician I have ever worked with. He would even go to patient’s homes to help them either get in or get out their contacts, or do home deliveries! Somehow, I was lucky enough to always receive one of his world famous cheesecakes during the Thanksgiving Holidays! My girls loved them! He would quickly drop it off, say Happy Holidays, and tell me to “just leave the pan on my doorstep! ” I also was lucky enough to go Dove hunting with him. He would set me up in the best spot and would shoot so that the dove’s would fly over me!
    I will miss him dearly.

  3. I worked with Alan 17 years and he was always the same. Always a smile and always went above and beyond to help! More recent years I would see him at the store or at a function he was always there to give a hug and visit. In this world he was always a class act! He will be missed! Condolences to his children Chuck, Allison and grandchildren.

  4. Fred and LeeAnn Rader

    We send peace and comfort to Cotton’s family and friends. The world will miss this funny, kind and gentle man.

  5. Cotton i was you patient for over 27 yrs. Been wearing contacts since 1958, and always had problems and since i had keratoconus and had no choice at that time but to wear hard contacts aS i could not wear regular glasses to see well, Alan spent many hours and time working with me TO HELP ME SEE BETTER. After a short time he had me in gas permeable with great comfort and to this day at 82 yrs old i am still seeing good. just took a eye test with Texas motor vehicle and now I am good until 2030. We always talked about retirement and i always told him you cannot retire i will not have anyone to take care of my eyes. his comment was, i trained Rick Spinn and now he is as good as me. we had a good laugh. ===LOVE YOU BROTHER AND I SURE ENJOYED OUR LUNCHES TOGETHER AFTER YOU RETIRED===R.I.P. I KNOW YOU WILL ENJOY WALKING THE GOLDEN ROADS UP THERE==SAVE ME A SEAT, I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING TO SEE YOU

  6. Chuck – I know your dad must have been special because he raised you. I think you must be a lot like your dad. I’m so sorry for your broken heart. What a long beautiful life he lived!!! Thinking of you and your family!

  7. Alan was a special person we should all take from .Always a smile and glad to see you ,I had the honor to work with him while at CTEC He will be greatly missed RIP Alan now you and Joy can dance on the golden streets . My condolences to his family. Tracy Flaherty

  8. Sharon Cunningham

    I have known Alan since 1968 when I received my first set of contacts. He was the best at what he did and one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He dove hunted on our land over the years, and I loved to hear his updates on his kids. He touched a lot of lives in his lifetime, and we are all the better for having known him.

  9. Rick and Denna Smythe

    We just loved Cotton so much! God broke the mold after he made him!! He will be truly missed more than you will ever know! He loved Joy and missed her so much! He was so very proud of his children and grandchildren ! He loved to to tell all the stories with his special flare! His delicious cheesecake was legendary… of course … he would give me the recipe and say, “I might have left something out!”. I will miss his wonderful smile and huge hugs! Love you Cotton!!! You are missed already!! Rick and Denna Smythe

  10. Angela Cammack Sinkule

    Mr. Burkhart was my contact person from the time I was 18 months old. Of course he was more than that, I remember how much he cared about my whole family. I became allergic to soft contacts when I was 10. Alan called me 4 years later and he had found another option (gas permeable) that may help. I was forever indebted to him as you see I wore the thickest heaviest glasses and Alan saved me from being picked on at school. I have very fond memories and lots of funny ones too. I never went to visit Alan without leaving the office with a Coke. He let me go get them out of his mini fridge in the back. Now I may not have been the only one with that privilege, but I know that it made me feel so important! My heart broke when he had to retire. I still haven’t found anyone as good as him. Mr Alan Burkhart was a great man! He will be missed so much!

  11. Diane Dresner Williams

    Alan was my contact lens fitter from 1973 until he retired. He was kind and patient as my sight changed over the years. There was no one better. I was lucky to know him and to count him as a friend. I admired his example as a husband, father and godly man.

  12. I was a patient of Mr. Burkhart up until he retired, he put me in my first pair of contacts because I refused to wear glasses! He was always so kind and patient with me, he was the best! Prayers for the family.

  13. I don’t think I’ve ever known Cotton on a bad day. Every time I saw him, he had a smile on his face and a hug to share. Will miss you my friend. Give my love to Joy, and cherish those dances with her. Laci (Charlton) Terry

  14. Beth Eaton Ramsey

    I worked for Cotton for several years and became friends with him and Joy. Joy snd I were in Beta Sigma Phi together. I loved to watch them dance together. They were “one” when they danced. I had many years of fun with them. His obituary is exactly who he was, kind to everyone, cared about every patient, and loved his family beyond words. Rest in peace .

  15. I was one of many of his contact lens patients. He was kind, wise always had a smile. He even made a house call to drop off my contact lens! He was proud of his children and adored his wife. I am thankful I got to know him, trust him and appreciate his wisdom. May you find comfort in fond memories.

  16. Alan Burkhart was a generous and kind man. who went above and beyond finding the exactly right contact lens fitting for his patients. When my daughter was getting married in 2005, her future in-laws from Scotland traveled to Waco for the big wedding. Somehow, sister-in-law Sarah lost her contacts on the long flight to Texas. I called Mr. Burkhart and asked him if there was anything he could do to quickly replace Sarah’s contacts before the wedding. He said, “Sure, come in now,” so she did, and he took her prescription and got contacts for her that very same day. And he didn’t charge her at all, not even a dime!

  17. Eddie and Kay Robertson

    Cotton was a special friend to me and Eddie. We met years ago when Eddie did some remodeling for them. Then came Christmas and we got Cheesecake and it was so delicious. When pur son got married Joy helped us learn a waltz foe the wedding. So special to us. We had lunch with Cotton about a month ago and went to Red Lobster. He called us 2 weeks before he passed away and wanted to go to lunch or dinner but we were out of town. Sorry we missed that time. Your parents were great and we dearly loved them both. I know Cotton and Joy are rejoicing in heaven together again. May God bless your family. Know he loved you all so much and would brag on his family each time we were visiting. I know yall area special family.

  18. Joyce and Chris Brammer

    Cotton was a friend to anyone who had the privilege of knowing him, socially and/or professionally. MANY years ago, he fitted me with contacts and a few years after that, my shortsightedness improved so much that I didn’t need them anymore! While I thanked Cotton for this “miracle” ; we agreed that the Lord had His hand in that! Prayers to you, his family, as you find peace from all the condolence messages about Cotton, someone who touched many many lives during his journey here.

  19. Margot and Jeff Cook Louie and Peter

    What a beautiful tribute today to a magnificent man! Cotton came into our lives when we moved to Waco in 1990.
    My husband and I are both highly nearsighted so finding a contact lens company was a top priority! Cotton had us both seeing better than we ever had in our lives. In 1993. our son Peter was born and received a double dose of the myopia and the verdict was at 2 year old he was at a -18 diopters. I walked into Cotton’s office in tears holding my young son knowing what this was going to do to his quality of life. Cotton looked at me and smiled and said- “We can do this Margot!” So, the day he turned 2, he got his first set of contact lens. We had our struggles the first year with him loosing them in the nursery and on the playground-so in typical Cotton fashion, he knew we could not afford the expense and hunted all over until he found a disposable alternative. Because of this man, my son had a wonderful childhood. He raced mountain bikes and motorcycles and did all the things that he wanted to pursue. None of it would have been possible without Alan Burkhart telling a young mom, ” We can do this!” You are in our thoughts and prayers. He touched our family in such a mighty way.

  20. The way in which Cotton loved his family and friends from the deepest places of his heart, will never be forgotten.
    Where there was Cotton, there was Joy…Where there was Joy, there was Cotton…such a sweet example to all how in deed ‘they, as one, were better’….
    Ali and Chuck, thank you for sharing your amazing parents with us all…how blessed we are to love them and have been loved by them.
    Dance away our precious friends! …for Cotton now holds close to him his ‘Margaret’! ❤️

  21. Cotton,
    I have known you for what feels like, and probably was, my entire life. Being, what I always thought of, as my Papa’s best friend, you were like a second grandpa to me in a way. (And always will be). My own children now think of you that way as well, and wverytime we came to visit, my youngest wanted you to come over so she could sit in your lap and play. You and Joy both were a HUGE part of my childhood, Joy being my first dance teacher. I will miss you dearly and will cherish every memory. From family dinners at Bebe and Papa’s house, to dinners at El Conquistador. Wish I could have given you one last hug to say thank you for being such a kind, loving, gentle man. 💖

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