Samuel Stephen Burnett, age 65, of Alexandria died on December 2, 2013 at Mt. Vernon Hospital. He was born on March 10, 1948 in Ohio to the late Lee W. and Martha Richeson Burnett.
He is survived by two sisters, R. Christine Burnett and Sarah (Sally) B. Johnson. He is also survived by two nieces and a nephew, three great nephews and one great-niece.

After graduating from St. John's College, Annapolis, MD, he worked as a blacksmith creating ornamental ironwork in several places in the Alexandria, VA area. He later co-owned a jewelry shop making some of the jewelry that it sold. His artistic ability was evident in all these projects.

Steve became learning about computers when he was still in High School and took summer courses to learn more. Throughout his life, he was very interested in all that could be done with computers. He was eventually to teach the skills involved and later worked in the field full time. He was most recently employed as a Data Base Administrator at Fannie Mae in Herndon, VA.

Steve's many interests included the natural world. He and his mother often visited the Bombay Hook Park in Delaware where they saw many wild animals and birds, especially during migratory seasons. For this reason, the family is asking that donations to the Nature Conservancy or the Audubon Society be made in lieu of flowers.

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  1. I was actually the one who interviewed Steve in 2006 for an Oracle position in Fannie Mae. At the time, I was an inexperienced Oracle developer, and it took me only 2 minutes to realize his skill set was out of my league. Bringing him in was a no-brainer. Up until the end, his passion and expertise in Oracle technologies remained so strong because he was committed to continually learning — it was impressive to see his dedication. Over my 7 years working with Steve, I got the chance to know him pretty well. Never one to talk about himself, over many lunches I gradually learned there wasné�a�a��t much he hadné�a�a��t done over his 65 years. He grew up in rural PA and wrestled in high school. He was the proud owner of a jewelry business for many years and could tell you anything you needed to know about precious metals / stones. He owned and rode motorcycles and told me that more than anything he enjoyed the various smells he’d pick up in the fresh air when riding. He worked on cars and even had an old classic VW bug sitting in his garage at home. You didné�a�a��t have to know him well to know he loved getting his hands dirty with details — whether it was jewelry, automobiles, computers, Oracle, he was the guy reading the manual and figuring out the loopholes and intricacies. Steve had a great sense of humor and a healthy appetite for sarcasm. He enjoyed poker and gambling (low stakes) and had aspirations to develop software to beat the online game. He drank Guinness, loved Richard Pryor, BBC, English soccer, and would choose Chinese food for lunch every day if it was up to him. On the lighter side, he had some sayings that always made me smile: ‘There’s no truth to the rumor I firebomb’, used mostly when running into Microsoft issues, and typically followed up with ‘If I ever get to Redmond…’ Steve was a good coworker, a genuinely nice guy, and a true friend. He will be missed. My deepest condolences, and I’d love to talk with his family. – Greg DeLuca 703.568.1046

  2. From Fall 1975 to Spring 1976, I was the blacksmith’s helper to Steve in his Hephaestus Forge shop, which part of the newly opened Torpedo Factory Art Center. Steve was a brilliant man, full of thought.

  3. I met Steve in 1974, when we both had Studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. I had my business, The Nugget, making hand crafted jewelry in 14K, 18K and platinum; Steve had his business, Hephaestus Forge, making hand forged iron shutter dogs, hinges, gates and grills, as well as special commission pieces such as Gazebos for estates in D.C., and the iron gates at the entrance to the Carlyle House in Historic Alexandria, VA. He and I both served on the Rules Committee for the Torpedo Factory Art Center in 1974, which is where we met. I also taught jewelry making classes to adults for the Alexandria Art League, and would park my car in the parking lot near Steve’s building which had his forge at one end and a foundry at the other end. Steve said that he watched me come and go from the parking lot and thought that I was "stuck up" since I never stopped in to his forge to say "hi". I didn’t even know that the building he was in was part of the Art Center until we met for the Rules Committee. In any event, I realized immediately that Steve was an intelligent, witty and charismatic person. He also was a son of an Episcopal priest. Since I was also a preacher’s daughter, we had a lot in common, as well as being interested in metal work and creating beautiful and unique items for clients. We were married in 1976, and both enjoyed many hours working together on either helping him finish his gates for the Carlyle House, or the hinges for the same project, commissioned by the City of Alexandria. We also travelled to Philadelphia to visit the son of Samuel Yellen, an ironworker who make the gates in the Children’s Chapel at the Washington Cathedral. Steve aspired to be another "Samuel Yellen" for the City of Alexandria and the surrounding historic areas. He had many blacksmith friends, among them John Dittmeier, who has also left a remembrance. If anyone wishes to reminisce, do so via an email to my business, The Nugget; or via a phone call 703-548-3010.

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