John was born in New York City, to John Joseph Burns and Helen Sinclair. He was the youngest of the family with six older sisters. He was predeceased by his sisters, Helen Clifford (Sister Margaret Mary), Patricia Burns Gulley, Regina Burns O’Connell, and Alice Burns Velanis.
John grew up in the Bronx, NY and graduated from Samuel Gompers High School. He studied at the RCA Institute and served briefly in the U.S. Army in Korea in the 60’s. He worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority for a while repairing subway switches. Thereafter, he was employed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) until he retired, at first repairing office machinery and later in planning and implementing changes to offices spaces and facilities. He also contributed to evacuation planning after 9/11, including setting up emergency backpacks for leaders. During retirement, for the Red Cross, he drove patients to medical appointments and the “ice cream ladies” to visit a veteran’s hospital.
John was a member of the American Blue Jackets (now defunct precision marching society). He acted in FRBNY theatre group plays. He was an assistant scout master for Troop 28 at Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham. John was a subscribing member of the Chatham Community Players for over 40 years where he served for a while on the set construction and tear-down crew. He was a member of the Amazing Feet Running Club. He was a member of St. Patrick Church in Chatham where he was an usher-greeter, a senior altar server for funerals, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a student of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Chatham.
John loved bowling, bicycling, alpine skiing, dancing, attending the theatre, concerts and operas, flying kites, sail boating, golfing and running, including in half and full marathons. He loved the beach and traveled all four continents.
John was a loving family man. John was gentle. He was kind and helpful to family, friends, neighbors and strangers.
John is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lois Gaydos Arnold Burns, his son John Adam Burns (partner Veronique Fortin and son Loic-Armand Burns) and his daughter Susan Burns Halldorson (husband Christopher and children, Caroline, Elise and Evan); his sisters Evelyn Burns Gulley and Theresa Burns; plus seven nieces Patricia Gulley Martin, Theresa Gulley Blaha, Debra Gulley Carter, Lisa Gulley, Laura Gulley Cole, Sophia Velanis Quinn, and Helen Velanis Morsette; and eight nephews Robert Gulley, Steven Gulley, James Gulley, James Burns, William Velanis, John Velanis, Thomas Gulley and Michael Gulley.