James Robert Burns

August 20, 1927March 13, 2013

James Robert Burns of Cary, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, and friend passed away on March 13, 2013. He was 85 years old.

He was born on August 20, 1927 in Algona, Iowa, the son of James David and Hazel Wright Burns. He was a graduate of Algona High School. After joining the Navy and spending several years in the South Pacific, Mr. Burns attended Coe College and graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Forestry. He met Doris June Johnson of LaCrosse, Wisconsin while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They married in 1953. Mr. Burns enjoyed a long career with Unit Structures/Koppers Company working with designing, marketing, selling, and managing sales of wood products. His career took him and his family from Milwaukee to Magnolia, Arkansas to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and finally to Cary in 1971.

Mr. Burns loved spending time with his family, especially making holidays and vacations special. He was an excellent chef and family and friends looked forward to his creations. He enjoyed Big Band music and fishing. In his younger years, he was an avid fresh water fisherman and loved to host a fish fry. Later, his interest was surf fishing. He and his wife, Doris, spent many happy days surf fishing at Topsail Beach and Ocracoke Island.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Doris June Johnson Burns and sister Ruth Ann Burns Skilling. He is survived by three daughters: Jo Dee Strange and husband Todd, Lea Ann Franks, and Lynn Marie Burns and friend, Steve Blair; five grandchildren: Sterling Tuttle Gaster and husband Travis, Caitlyn Franks Kick and husband Tyler, Casey Franks, Aaron Strange, and Thomas Strange; and great-grandson Thomas Gaster. Mr. Burns is also survived by many nieces and nephews and their families.

A memorial service will be held 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Cary. The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Wake County, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607 (ATTN: Foundation).


  • Memorial Service Tuesday, March 19, 2013

James Robert Burns

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Tim Tudor

March 19, 2013

To know Jim was to love him. What a great guy. My contact with him this side of heaven was way to short! Will look forward to eternity where we can sit and talk and prayers are with you, the family.

March 18, 2013

Jim was my friend and Sales Manager from about 1960 on to just a few years ago. I am deeply sorry for your loss. He was a great man and friend and I know he will always be remembered so.
Verne and Ann Garrison
St Louis, Mo

March 18, 2013

My deepest sympathy to Jim's entire family. We go back a long way to the early days of Unit Structures/Koppers Co. from Pittsburgh. Jim was a good sales rep. for our big glulam industrial buildings. I especially enjoyed our fishing trip to Santee Cooper and the deep sea fishing trips with the whole Koppers gang.
Dennis Blazier

Donna Lee

March 18, 2013

Lea, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

Travis Gaster

March 16, 2013

Forever in our hearts and thanks for all the great memories.

James Burns

March 15, 2013

March 15,2013
Dear Family of Jim and Doris,
I bear sad greetings to you all from another first cousin(brother of Sister Elizabeth) We all knew Jim and Ruth Ann as our father and Jim's father were close brothers and we got together for family gatherings so long ago. I visited Jim and met his bride to be in Millwaukee when I was in the Navy and he worked there. WE lost contact as I married and moved to the Boston area and I met him only once more at another cousins marriage in 1990 in Iowa.
Please accept our most prayerful wishes at his passing. I have entered Jim into my fairly extensive Burns family tree history on Family tree maker. Should anyone desire any information I have a pretty good record.
Most sincere condolences,

James G Burns

March 15, 2013

Dear JoDee, Lea and Lynn,
You are in my heart and prayers as you say fond farewell to your father. Jim and I are cousins, born in the same year and part of that older generation now. We had a great childhood even in the midst of the Great Depression and are so grateful for a loving family. Although Jim and I saw each other rarely as sixty miles between Algona and Estherville was some distance to be covered in the '30's, we alwaysd maintained an interest in each other's lives. Correspondence at Christmas and birthdays and an occasional family reunion kept us up to date. The last couple of years have made those contacts less frequent but deeply cherished.
I join you in prayer that he will be at peace and enjoying a happy reunion with your dear mother. And may you be consoled with many happy memories and the support of family and friends.
Love and prayers,
Sister Elizabeth Mary Burns, aka Betty

Todd Wilder

March 15, 2013

Jo Dee, Lea and Lynn,
I'm so sorry to hear about Uncle Jim. I'll always remember his great laugh and discussing beer making with him when he was visiting. It meant a lot to my wife Marilyn and I that he and Aunt Doris made the trip to La Crosse to attend our wedding. You're in our thoughts and prayers.

All the best,


Cindy Hibbs(Skilling)

March 15, 2013

Jo Dee, Lea and Lynn,

My heart goes out to you. Uncle Jim was one of the finest persons I've ever known. He had a perpetual smile in his eyes and it was impossible not to smile back. I have the warmest memories of him, Aunt Doris, and all of you visiting us - was it really so long ago?! Love Cindy