R. Michael Burns
April 16, 1941 – December 18, 2019
Richard Michael Burns, devoted husband, family man, and friend, tipped his hat in parting on December 18, 2019. Though beset by chronic health issues over recent years, nothing would diminish his determination, spirit, or sense of humor. When the end of his journey finally did come, he passed peacefully amid the love of his family and friends.
Mike was born April 16, 1941, in San Diego to Robert Vincent and Helen McNamara Burns, and traveled widely as a Marine’s son. Helen passed away when he was 12; when his father remarried, Mike found a second mother in Mabel (Mabs). One moment he was a rebellious 15-year-old greaser loitering on the outskirts of Tokyo; the next he was enlisting in the Navy at the age of 17 and on his way to becoming a model sailor (despite somehow never setting foot on a boat).
Mike met the love of his life, Brenda Humphreys, on a blind date while he was a Navy aviation mechanic stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Thoroughly “twitterpated,” he proposed only two weeks later. Her family eyed the sailor with skepticism, but it wasn’t long before he won them over and was welcomed into the family. On October 14, 1961, Mike and Brenda began their 58-year marriage. That day Mike gained parents, Vivian and Edith Humphreys, and grandparents, J. Lloyd and Elizabeth Bowen.
He would become the dad to Robert, Susan, and eventually Mark. In them, and in their families, he instilled the values of compassion, conviction, honesty, integrity, and good humor. Mike was wonderfully proud and supportive of his family, proving his love by both his actions and his words.
He supported his community, as well. While raising a family in Florida, Mike led Boy Scouts, Indian Guides, and Indian Princesses. As scoutmaster, he successfully spearheaded the charge to save the troop clubhouse from developers. After returning to Maryland, he served as a board member of Christmas in April Calvert County, championing efforts to repair the homes of neighbors in need. He also served as president of the Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park, which saved the park from closure, served as a model for other efforts, and sparked a long-running personal rivalry with beavers. The governor handed Mike a Beautiful Person award for his instrumental role in preserving the park, though Mike was always quick to deflect credit to fellow volunteers.
Mike was full of practical know-how, honed as a skilled mechanic and built over a career in construction. In his working life he helped break ground for Disney World, co-led the family excavation business, and shared his expertise as a sought-after consultant. He was an adept handyman who didn’t know the meaning of “can’t” even when he should have called a plumber.
Mike is dearly loved and sorely missed. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Burns; son Robert Burns and wife Rosemary; daughter Susan Blackwell and husband Curtis; son Mark Burns and wife Becca; grandchildren Mike Burns, Emily Burns Gil and husband Dioni, Lauren Burnett and husband Justin, Mary Burns, Carolyn Blackwell, Grayson Burns, Lucy Burns, and Norah Burns; great-grandchildren Dioscar, Adelyn, and Lucas; sister Sandy Van Dyke; siblings by marriage Harold Humphreys, Joan Humphreys, and Ann Humphreys; and nephews and nieces Jay Heth, Patty Phillips, Robert Van Dyke, Austin Crum, and Tess Butner.
Services will be held on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at 11:00 am at Waters Memorial United Methodist Church, 5400 Mackall Rd., St. Leonard, MD 20685. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park or Christmas in April Calvert County.
The family would also like to express gratitude for the incredible compassion demonstrated by the doctors, nurses, and aides at George Washington University Hospital during Mike’s final days.