Model Profile: Pat Burnham

Western Photography Guild
Box 2801
Denver 1, Colorado


If you'd just met him, you might decide with a knowing shake of your head that he's a nice fellow but just a little conceited. On getting to know him better, you'd alter this first impression and say, "A really swell fellow with a healthy respect for his own capabilities."

That Pat Burnham is capable there is no doubt. Take just one example. Pat answered the telephone one day last spring to find the director of weightlifting at the Y.M.C.A. on the line. "Are you planning to enter the Rocky Mountain A.A.U. meet tonight, Pat?" he asked. Since he hadn't touched a barbell in more than three months, Pat replied in the negative. The director reminded Pat that he'd taken second place in the 132-point class the preceding year. "But, coach," remonstrated Pat, "I'm way out of training; I wouldn't make any showing at all."

15E Pat Burnham-squashed.jpg

Finally, however, Pat yielded and entered the contest with scarcely time for a warmup. As you might suspect, Pat took first place with ease, making the very respectable total of 470 pounds for the three lifts. Pat really wasn't surprised, but he did think the total should have been higher. Anyone, however, who has followed lifting meets and knows the many long hours of work some of the participants put in will concede Pat the right to a swelled chest, if not head, over such a feat. Pat, though, took it in his stride, even when some of the onlookers remarked that he'd shown the best lifting form of all the contestants, no matter what weight. He's won a great many honors in his eighteen years; and perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning, for in his upbringing lies the key to Pat's natural self-reliance and many accomplishments.

Born in Denver February 2, 1930, Patrick Russell Burnham remained in the city of his birth only six months before setting out with his traveling parents. His father, of English descent, and his mother, of France and Irish lineage, were a peripatetic pair. His father's business, usually that of photography but very often any of a score of other trades, took Pat into every state in the country except the New England states, New York, and Pennsylvania by the time he was seven.

Then Pat's life settled down somewhat. Two years in California, chiefly San Francisco, were followed by two more in Denver and then four in and about Chicago. During these periods Pat often lived in boarding homes and private schools, sometimes attending as many as three different schools in a year. These many changes in environments would tend to develop either introspective or self-assertive qualities in any young lad, and in Pat's case it was the latter. He made friends easily, and, left often to his own devices, he soon found he could accomplish just about anything he set his mind on.


Sometimes his aspirations were too large. Once Pat decided with a friend to run away from Chicago. By slipping into a trailer they got as far as Terre Haute, Ind., where they were headed back home by understanding policemen. Quite upset over the episode, the other boy's parents accused Pat, then still 11, of exerting a bad influence over their 18-year-old hopeful. Whereupon Pat's mother decided to subject him to more rigorous discipline. Three years at military school near Chicago brought Pat's natural bent for leadership to the fore. He liked the life and got to be a battalion commander with the rank of captain. Pat attended the local public high school while living at the academy, lettering in football, taking a diving championship, and acquiring several medals for sharpshooting and other events. His grades were just about what he wanted them to be -- all A's and B's when he attended to his studies and C's when other interests predominated.

He attended camps in summer, enjoying particularly the nature work and tumbling. At Camp Freedom in Michigan his talent for leadership got him a councilor's job, and he was also a lifeguard on the beach.

At the age of 15 Pat returned to Denver and lived for a while at the Y.M.C.A. He had many jobs, working in kitchens, soda fountains, bakeries, hotels, department stores, printing shops, construction, and shipping departments. He first tried his hand at weightlifting in January of 1946, and his basically well-formed body took big forward strides. His training has been erratic and occasionally non-existent for months at a time, but sufficient to give him a second and first against stiff competition in the only meets he has entered.

In November of 1945, before he commenced lifting weights, another important influence entered Pat's life when he met a cute young brunet named Betty Ann Maier while roller-skating at Denver's Mammoth Gardens. A year later they began "going steady," and a year and a half after that, on June 28, 1947, were married in nearby Golden by a justice of the peace. A week later Betty Ann's parents were somewhat mollified when Pat and Betty Ann were remarried by a priest in the rectory of St. Catherine's Church.

16D Pat Burnham-squashed.jpg

Although wed at the tender age of 17 and 16, Pat and Betty have not experienced more than the usual ups and downs of a young couple. Their neat apartment is a happy one, made happier on March 30, 1948, when they became the parents of a beautiful 8-pound 2 1/2 ounce daughter, Linda Joy. Betty Ann's weight, incidentally, hovers around the 100 mark. Three mouths to feed have kept Pat busy, and he works hard at his job in the receiving department of a large equipment company.

In addition, he frequently models before our camera, an activity he enjoys very much and at which he is eminently talented. In his spare time, he is studying a civil engineering course, and his other interests are many and varied. They include reading, stamp-collecting, swimming, photography, record-collecting, and playing the piano. His favorite numbers are the Moonlight Sonata, Clair de Lune, and the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto. He has many friends, including fellow physique models Mel Nelson and Keith Nesladek. His features tend toward the classic, and his green eyes are well set off by a rosy complexion and a thick head of hair that is somewhere between blond and light brown.

His current measurements are: height 5' 5 1/2", weight 135, neck 14 1/2", chest normal 38", chest expanded 41 1/2", waist 27", hips 33 1/2", biceps 14 1/2", forearm 12 1/2", wrist 7", thigh 22", and calf 15 1/2".

Yes, Pat is a swell fellow, greatly gifted with a beautiful body and in many other ways, likable, friendly, sincere, intelligent, at 18 well aware that life is not all sweetness and light, but that any obstacle can be overcome by the fellow who has what it takes and uses it.

—Don Whitman

Andrew Dimler