James William Burns, III

August 14, 1932 - April 19, 2017
James William Burns, III

Gifts & Memorial Donations

James William Burns III, otherwise known by his friends and family as Jimmy, Jim, JB, Mr. Burns, Coach, Mr. Bernstein, JimGym, St. James, Dad and Papa, passed away on April 19, 2017 at the age of 84. He spent his last days surrounded by his loved ones. Jim will always be remembered as the guy who did hand stands on the roof (even at 70 years old), Coach Burns; leader of the gymnastics’ team, body builder extraordinaire, the guy who ran the Marine Corp Marathon at 60 years old, faithful Christian, thoughtful husband, amazing father, fun-loving Grandfather and loyal friend.

Jim married his beautiful wife Marlene in 1957. They were blessed to have 60 great years together. Before having children they enjoyed 10 years where they were able to travel the country and enjoy time together.  A holiday never passed where Jim didn’t get Marlene thoughtful gifts. She and the girls always came first. They had 2 incredible daughters, Lisa and Melanie (can you guess who wrote this?). He walked both girls down the aisle at their weddings (and he wasn’t on his hands). Lisa married Chris Wassel and Melanie married John Hodge. Lisa and Chris have 3 children; Brynne, Killian and Reilly. Melanie and John have two kids; Kelsey and Grady. Jim enjoyed many years of eating popcorn, drinking slurpees and doing gymnastics with his kids and grandkids.

On a perfect day you would find him with a Slurpee in hand, a tomato sandwich on the table and a Redskins game playing on the TV.  He sure did love his cookies and coke too. Funny that the chair acts, he did back in the day, were done balancing precariously on top of coke bottles! You never knew where you might find him. It could be rolling down Barnsley Lane “while doing a handstand” on a skateboard, on top of our two story house “in a handstand”, or walking out of a pizza joint “on his hands”. I got the feeling he preferred being upside down to being rightside up.

Jim struggled in school as a child and had a terrible time reading. Through hard work, perseverance and the help of his wife, he went back to school at Columbia Union College and got his BA in Physical Education.  After getting his degree he spent his entire career serving others at CUC. He went on to receive his Masters from the University of Maryland and worked many hours toward his Doctorate. One of his favorite things to do was going on trips with his Gymnastics’ team and witnessing through their performances. He was head of the Physical Education Department at CUC for most of those years and then finished out his career in the Library as Circulation Manager.

Everything he did was done with a grateful heart and a positive attitude. He was known for his kindness, generosity, and great sense of humor. Jim didn’t have a serious bone in his body. He could find the funny in just about anything. Nothing made him happier than clowning around and making people laugh.

Jim passed on more than one of his traits and passions. Running was also a big part of his life. Lisa, Chris, Melanie and Grady all got the running bug. Jim and Chris ran the Marine Corp Marathon together (when Jim was 60). Later, Melanie also completed the Marine Corp Marathon. Lisa & Melanie both ran multiple 1/2 marathons and now Grady runs track in high school and can proudly share that he can run a mile in 5:05 minutes.

Everyone who knew Jim loved him. He was one of the most patient people you’d ever meet. He always put others first. Jim was an inspiration to many. I don’t think he realized how many people’s lives he touched. One of his other redeeming qualities was humility.

Jim loved the Lord with all his heart. He led his life by example. To him the glass was always half full. With friends and family he never said goodbye. His parting sentiment was always “Peace…in the valley”. So to you I say “Peace…in the valley…until we meet again”.

The family will receive friends on Monday, April 24, 2017 from 10am-11am at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 3989 John Tyler Hwy, Williamsburg, VA, 23185 ; where a  funeral service will follow at 11am. A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 2pm at Cedar Hill Cemetery, 4111 Pennsylvania Ave, Suitland, MD, 20746.  Please visit bucktroutfuneralhome.net to see the full obituary and share online condolences.




Monday, April 24, 2017
11:00 AM

Seventh-Day Adventist Church - Directions
3989 John Tyler Highway
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185


Tuesday, April 25, 2017
2:00 PM

Cedar Hill Cemetery - Directions
4111 Pennsylvania Avenue
Suitland, Maryland 20746


Monday, April 24, 2017
10:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Seventh-Day Adventist Church - Directions
3989 John Tyler Highway
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

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  • April 22, 2017
    Carolyn (Craig) Kendall says:
    I was so sad to learn of the passing of Coach Burns! I have such fond memories of when my sister, Jeanne (Craig) Laughlin and I went to Mt Vernon and performed with the CUC gymnastic team. As Kindergardener with my 12 yr old sister, being away from home overnight was quite an adventure! Coach Burns and his wife made us feel safe and comfortable. I loved playing with his daughter, Melanie too, another little one in the group. Im sure we'll do handstands and 3 highs on the golden streets with Coach Burns one day. He probably wouldn't have even remembered me but he made quite an impression on me. RIP Coach!

  • April 22, 2017
    Debra Kopko Royal says:
    I knew Mr. Burns from Wheaton SDA church circa1960 and he has remained good friends with my parents. In 1978, I walked into his gym class at CUC as a college freshman. He smiled and said, "Remember all those times I told you not to run (in the church)? Forget all that and go for it." We laughed and laughed.

  • April 22, 2017
    Beverly Romero (Stout) says:
    I worked for Mr. Burns at the library and had him as my PE teacher during my days at CUC. He was funny and kind and a good boss and teacher. Condolences to the family.

  • April 22, 2017
    Yul & Vicky Toliver says:
    Until we meet again sweet friend... Rest.

  • April 21, 2017
    Guillory Family says:
    To family and friends of James Burns III, We extend our heartfelt condolences for your loss. Please be assured of God’s enduring love for you, his concern with your well-being, and his willingness to help you endure this difficult time. (1 Peter 5:7) We pray that God’s promise at Revelation 21:4 will provide you comfort in the days to come. For further comforting thoughts, please visit https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/watchtower-no3-2016-may/when-a-loved-one-dies/. The Guillory Family