Rockco Funeral Home (Montevallo)

3715 Highway 25, Montevallo, AL


Thomas Phillip Burns

August 15, 1932June 21, 2020

Thomas Phillip Burns, 87, passed away June 21, 2020 at the Bibb Medical Center in Centreville, AL. Thomas was born in El Paso TX on August 15, 1932, and raised in Carlsbad NM. In 1955, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served his country for 20 years, stationed in Fairchild Aircraft, Hagertown, MD; Sikorsky Helicopter, Bridgeport CT; Lockheed Aircraft INTL, NY; Incirlik AB Turkey; Chambley-Bussières AB France, Keesler AFB, MS; Hutchinson AFS, KS; Travis AFB, CA; Scott AFB, IL; Don Muang AB Thailand, Korat AB Thailand ; Udorn AB Thailand; Tahkli AB Thailand; Nakhon Phanom AB Thailand; U-Tapao AB Thailand, Maxwell AFB, AL, and Gunter AFB, AL. He retired as Lt. Colonel in Montgomery AL. As a USAF test pilot he was certified to fly over 24 different types of fixed and rotary military aircraft during his career. He served in 35 combat missions during the Vietnam conflict. Post USAF retirement, Tom entered into a career of corporate controller for several large corporations in Montgomery, Alabama.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, James Leslie Burns and Billie Marie Lillian Rurak; and three brothers, Charles Robert Burns, James Patrick Burns and Jerry Michael Burns.

Tom is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Gerrie Dickerson Burns; daughter, Elizabeth Burns Williams (Brad J. Williams) of Atlanta, Georgia; son, Thomas Phillip “Phil” Burns Jr. (Jami Brooks Burns) of Montevallo, Alabama; grandsons, Preston Phillip Burns, and Jackson Bridges Burns of Montevallo, Alabama; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces in California and Texas.

A private memorial service will be held at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, Alabama. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation https://www.alzinfo.org/donate/donation_form/.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Thomas Phillip Burns

have a memory or condolence to add?

Liz Burns Williams

July 6, 2020

I know you were a great pilot and hero to many, but to me you were just "Daddy". You encouraged me to be determined, independent and most of all adventurous. Thank you for my LOVE of Travel! You shared the world with me and all the wonderful experiences. I will never forget the trips to Europe, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, South America, Caribbean, touring the United States in an RV, the summers at the Lake Martin house and the cruises with you. I loved every trip and adventure!
You even brought the world into our house every night at dinner! My friends couldn’t even pronounce the diverse foods you cooked up for us at our slumber parties. While their parents served hamburgers, meatloaf & pizza, you were cooking up tacos, enchiladas, tamales, fondue, shish-kabobs, curry, stroganoff, remoulade, etouffee and chateaubriand at our house. I hope heaven has a kitchen and a grill!
Thank you for all the fabulous holidays. The Burns family always loved to celebrate TOGETHER! You always enjoyed bringing everyone together for family birthdays, anniversaries, and especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was great enjoying the holidays with your brothers Mike & Pat and their families and meeting our great aunts, Kathleen from Albuquerque and Jewel from Chicago.
Thank you for showing me what a great marriage could and should be. I searched years to find what you & Mom had and thanks to you, I finally found him. You invited Brad to join us for dinner at your table every night on that Montreal-Nova Scotia cruise and then you invited him to our family Thanksgiving to meet the rest of our family. You told me he was a great Army guy & you were right! Our wedding in Biloxi, MS was perfect.
Thank you for ALWAYS being there. I know we sometimes had our differences, but we always got through the tough times. I love you and am proud to say you were a great Dad and will be truly missed!
We’ll take care of Mom. Please know that you are still here in our hearts forever!

Salute to the U.S. Air Force:

July 6, 2020

Here's a toast to Tom Burns -
Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend, we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old,
Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!
Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you've lived to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon, we carry on. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Irene Williams

July 6, 2020

Rebecca Hungerford

June 30, 2020

The Burns Family,

We didn’t get a chance to personally meet Tom, but after almost two years of living in this beautiful home, I feel like both Tom and Gerrie are a part of our distant family. We remain honored to be able to fill this home with the joy and love that had once preceded us. Our hearts are saddened to hear of his passing and our family will be making a donation in his name.

Our deepest condolences,

The Hungerford Family

Margaret Feld

June 29, 2020

Margaret Feld - Wetumpka AL

Whitfield United Methodist Church

June 29, 2020

Susie Peach Foster Sunday School Class
Montgomery AL

Liz Williams

June 29, 2020

From: Beverly & Tim Chalfin
N. Ft. Meyers FL

Liz Williams

June 29, 2020

From: Kathleen Broom - Dunwoody, GA

Liz Williams

June 29, 2020

D J Burkett

June 29, 2020

Tom had an amazing personality and always kept things interesting. We had lots of parties in France and drove from Dreux Air Base to Paris numerous times in his fancy black Citroen. For the parties, he often fixed ground beef tenderloin "cooked" by marinating in lemon juice for a day or two. This was long before I learned about “Beef Tartare” being on the menu in many of the best European restaurants.

When we were married in 1959, our favorite picture was taken with us in the back seat of Tom’s black Citroen as we left the Dreux Air Base Chapel headed to our Officer's Club for the reception. Our daughter had a copy of that picture framed for our 50th Anniversary Party and it is on top of the chest of drawers in our home.

While it was sad to receive the news, it did for sure seem like he had suffered long enough. THANK YOU for keeping us informed.


Del and Jerry

Please notify the remaining members of the C-123 reunion group. I see that he was a little more than a year older than me and we both know he has done a super job of battling medical issues for a long time. I think the last reunion he and Gerrie were able to attend was the one in Tucson.

Those of us who remain are becoming seriously old!

From: D J Burkett
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2020