William E. “Bill” Burns

William E. “Bill” Burns, 87, of Freeland, died Nov. 8, 2002, at home.

Mr. Burns was a devoted husband, a wonderful father and will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He was born March 23, 1915, in Newark, N.J., to Thomas Edward Burns and Catherine Van Wert of New Jersey.

He married Marion A. Colwell in 1939 and they raised two sons. He was a film projectionist by profession, a position held by his father, but his heart always remained in music, which he pursued his entire life. He spent most of his life in and around Newark, N.J., and moved to Wall, N.J., when he retired in 1970.

He played guitar since he was a young boy and played with many bands from the Big Band era in the New York and New Jersey areas. He played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Meadowbrook Club in New Jersey from 1938 until 1941. Before moving to Whidbey Island, Mr. Burns played with the Harry Hurley Big Band for quite a few years at various locations along the Jersey shore. He also owned a music store and taught guitar and banjo.

He and his wife, Marion, moved to Whidbey Island in 1992 to live with their son. After Mr. Burns moved to Whidbey Island, he and Marion, who was a singer, joined the Whidbey Island Dixieland Jazz Band. He played guitar and banjo until a few years ago, when he had to give it up.

He also formed the Burns, Burns & Foster Trio. The group played at private affairs and local events on Whidbey. He and his wife played together at numerous charity fund-raisers over the years, and played at Careage House in Coupeville as part of their volunteer efforts. Mr. Burns worked tirelessly as a volunteer for the Senior Center Thrift Store of Freeland for as long as he could. He will be remembered by his friends and family for his musical talents, his wry wit and the honorable way he lived his life.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Marion, of Whidbey Island; two sons, Bruce A. Burns and his wife, Darlene, of Whidbey Island and Gordon E. Burns of Point Pleasant, N.J.; a brother, Robert Burns, and his wife, June, of Clark, N.J.; a niece, Cathy Grove, of Point Pleasant, N.J.; three nephews, George Burns and Bobby Burns in New Jersey and Jeff Burns in Florida; a cousin, Janice Marsh, and her husband, Jimmie, of Venice, Fla.; two grandchildren, Devon and Trevor Burns, of Point Pleasant, N.J.; and numerous other cousins, extended family and friends. He was preceded in death by a sister, Eula Frey.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the American Cancer Society. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 26 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland.

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