Robert L. Burns, 86, of Indianola, Iowa, a former general manager of the Carroll Daily Times Herald and a longtime university professor and development director with West Virginia University, Grand View University and Simpson College, died Sunday morning, Aug. 26, 2018, at the Good Samaritan Society home, in Indianola.
Burns had been in hospice care in recent weeks following post-stroke medical complications, including dementia. Burns also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Robert Lloyd Burns was born Oct. 4, 1931, in Emporia, Kan., a son of Victor and Edna Burns, a railroad worker and hospital bookkeeper.
As a child, Burns quickly developed an interest in music, and learned piano at an early age. In his high school years, Burns earned money playing the piano in dance halls and other venues in Kansas, often accompanying much older and experienced professional singers and musicians.
Burns graduated from Emporia High School in 1949, and started studies in music at Emporia State University. The Korean War interrupted his education as Burns served in the U.S. Army during that war for nearly two years, all of it at Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri.
After graduation from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Burns was hired as minister of music for First United Methodist Church in downtown Des Moines. It is there where he met and married Ann Wilson, of Carroll, on June 26, 1965. The couple divorced in 1984.
The couple adopted three children as babies, two sons from Cedar Rapids, and a daughter from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon.
Burns served as a professor at Simpson College, in Indianola, following his time at First United Methodist, and studied in Europe under the tutelage of the renowned French organist Marie-Claire Alain, before moving to Carroll in 1979, where he became general manager of the Daily Times Herald until leaving in 1984.
He served as a development official for Grand View University in Des Moines for five years before being recruited as a vice president for development at West Virginia University, in Morgantown, where he lived for more than a decade before his retirement in Overland Park, Kan.
Burns is survived by his three children, Douglas Burns, of Carroll, Tom Burns and his wife, Jennifer, of Carroll, and Jane Lawson and her husband, Danny, of West Des Moines; four nieces, Marilyn Thompson, of Phoenix, Cindy McCoy, of St. Charles, Miss., Julie Holliday, of Olathe, Kan., and Karen Bishop, of Kansas City, Miss., and four grandchildren, Kellan and Carsten Lawson and Gus and Lola Burns.
He was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings, Victor Burns, Donald Burns, Marilyn Pierce and Marian Thompson.
A graveside service will be held at at Maplewood Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Emporia, Kan., at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.
Donations in Burns’ honor may be sent to the Carroll Library Foundation, 118 E. Fifth St., Carroll, Iowa 51401.