Third generation net-maker, Billy Burbank III, was born on Amelia Island, Florida, in 1951. Billy learned his net making skills at the very young age of eight years old by his father Bill Burbank Jr, and his grandfather, Capt. Bill Burbank Sr. Billy attended school in Fernandina Beach from 1st grade to graduation of 12 years from FBHS in 1970. He attended two semesters at Florida Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City on a baseball scholarship. Billy became a full time employee and master net-maker of Burbank Trawl Makers, Inc., which was owned and operated by his father since 1957.
In the early 80’s he saw the writing on the wall with shrimp regulations and started a successful sport net addition, dba Burbank Sport Nets, making backstops, overhead netting and field equipment for colleges, schools and stadiums. In the early 90’s he bought the business from his father and later sold Burbank Sport Nets in 2015. Billy is the oldest of three brothers, Tommy, David and Johnny. Tommy and Johnny worked for the business from the late 70’s to 2015. David became a successful mechanic, as well as time spent in the US Navy.
Throughout Billy’s career as an accomplished net-maker he earned several awards. In 2000 he was honored as an environmental hero for his tireless efforts to preserve and protect our Nation’s environment. In 2014 he received the Florida Folk Heritage Award for his significant contributions to Florida’s cultural heritage through outstanding achievements in the art of net making. In 2016 he was inducted into the Fernandina Beach High School Hall of Fame for lettering in football and baseball and serving his community. In 2019 he was inducted into the University of North Florida Hall of Fame for his longtime contributions and support of their athletic programs.
History of the Burbank family can also be found in the Florida memory blog in St. Augustine Museum and Fernandina Beach Museum.
Billy takes the most pride in his faith, family and friends. “And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love: 1 Corinthians 13:13”. When not making nets he loves to spend time in Montana hunting, fishing and relaxing.