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Winter Texans of the Week: Dan and Deborah Burkett

Converted Texan Couple Lead Beautification Efforts in Casa Del Sol

by Rocio Villalobos

Dan and Deborah Burkett have found the secret to staying young is staying active. The pair, originally from Iowa, have been married for 50 years and have spent the past 10 together at Donna’s Casa Del Sol Mobile Home and RV Resort, where they have gotten involved in everything and helped transform the park.

Since becoming Converted Texans three years ago, the Burketts decided to help spruce up the park to make it feel more like home.

“It started out back in this one spot out there. I asked park management, ‘Do you mind if I just start this little garden?’” Deborah said. “It was a wreck. We pulled all the weeds and fixed it up, and it just continued on from there.”

Together, and with the help of other residents, they started a project to beautify the park. In the two years since getting started, they have planted dozens of trees and created gardens in nearly every available plot of grass. When the February freeze hit, they started again, nearly from scratch.

“This is our home; it’s our park,” Dan said. “You take more pride in it when you get involved.”

All the work it takes keeping the plants watered and well-maintained has also brought them closer to their neighbors and second family.

“It’s a great way for everyone, especially the people who are new, to get involved,” Deborah said. “It’s everybody’s park. There are a certain few that come out all the time, and you get to know them a lot better.”

Their latest project is starting a memorial garden, which allows people to buy and plant a rose in their loved one's memory. Proceeds will go back into more supplies for the park.

“I’m going to sell them all out,” Deborah said. “I’m hoping, anyway.”

In addition to helping with the park’s landscaping, the pair oversees the shuffleboard courts and helps coordinate the Golden Age Olympics. For the Community Hall, Dan heads the Coffee Circle, keeping the space tidy and stocked, and Deborah leads the Decorating Committee.

“We’re always looking for something to do,” she said. “We seem to not be able to say no, but we don’t see it as work. We just want the park to be nice and fun for everyone.”

For anyone wanting to start a new project to showcase the full potential of the park, Dan advises just going for it.

“Think it up, present it, then head it up,” Dan said. “You won’t get anyone heading it up unless you do it. You’ve got to start it.”

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