Robert M. Burns

08/28/2012 11:41 AM |

Robert Milton Burns, 90 , of Riverhead.

Robert M. Burns, known to all as Bob, was born in Riverhead on September 12, 1921, the son of Milton L. Burns and Blanche (Griffing) Burns. He passed from this life peacefully at the Riverhead Care Center on August 25, 2012.

He was the beloved husband of Elaine, with whom he shared 14 years of marriage, having known each other for more than 60 years. He was predeceased by Mary Iwinicki Burns, mother of Bob’s two children, and by Lois Downs Burns, his wife of 23 years. Bob is survived by his children, Jerry L. Burns and Connie Burns St. Laurent; his wife, Elaine, and her family, Larry (Cathy) and their four children (Jonathon, William, Daniel and Sarah); his stepdaughters, Barbara Palmer, Patricia Sowinski and Carol Tracy; his step-grandchildren, Michael, David and Steve Tracy; his step-great-grandchildren, Sean, Mary, Ryan and Erica; and his step-great-great-grandaughter, Emma.

Bob will be remembered in so many ways by a wide circle of family, friends and countless East Enders, whom he touched inhis work life for Suffolk County National Bank, in his 48 years of sportswriting and through his Little League coaching, Lions Club membership and general involvement in the life of Suffolk County. He will be remembered for his humor and toastmaster skills; his love of and willingness to support and talk about sports from the pro level to the local bowling scores dutifully reported for many years; The Sporting Whirl, his weekly column written in the third person that graced multiple publications for more than four decades with his unique perspective and wit; the tournaments and a Little League field named in his honor; his playing in the “Slow Pitch League” for Doc’s Tavern as a shortstop and then as catcher for many years and that team’s gatherings after every game; his storytelling ability; and his encyclopedic memory.

Bob lived life fully and brought that sense of life to many he met. Those who knew him well could easily tease him about his somewhat legendary ability to be both generous and cantankerous about how he shouldn’t be spending money; some knew of his quietly doing things for others that many experienced though he was loath to talk about. Bob truly loved being “up at the Sound,” and those welcomed to the bungalow over the decades had many stories to tell of “Uncle Bunky’s fun and games,” parties, cookouts, card games, meetings, feasts, the Big Rock, games of Ghost and those glorious sunsets from the porch.

Bob graduated from Riverhead High School and is enshrined in its Sports Hall of Fame for his exploits and county championships in multiple sports. He went on to Hobart College, graduating in 1942 and playing as a lineman for their football team as well. Bob proudly served in the Army Air Corps in World War II, with time overseas in Italy. After returning home Bob took a job with a bank, not realizing that this was a “career move.” As opportunities for advancement came to him, he became the loan officer and then branch manager of Franklin National Bank and finally, vice president of SCNB.

His grandfather and he built the home he and his family moved into on Newton Avenue, where he and Mary raised their family. His sportswriting career began in 1946 and continued until 1998, with brief interruptions, resulting in vast numbers of column inches. He began coaching in the Riverhead Little League, which he helped to found, and managed the Lions team for 34 years, winning the league title about 30 times. Bob’s presence at many sporting events persisted well after his writing ceased, and his moniker “Dean of East End Sports” stuck. Bob was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, one of only three inductees in the sports journalism category.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the newly created Bob Burns Scholarship Fund, to be managed by the Lions Club as a way to continue supporting the youth of the East End.

Visitation will be Thursday, August 30, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home, 406 East Main St., Riverhead. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, August 31, followed by interment at Riverhead Cemetery.

This is a paid notice.

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