6 N Main • Caldwell, KS • 620-845-6424
Robert K. "Bob" Burns
September 6, 1952 ~ December 16, 2017
Best of all he loved the fall. The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods floating on trout streams and above the hills. The high blue windless sky . . . Now he will be part of them forever. Ernest Hemingway
Robert Keith Burns, (named Keith for his maternal uncle Keith Zahn), of Caldwell, Kansas, crossed the veil between worlds to fish the waters with the Fisher of All on December 16, 2017.
Bob is survived by his mother, Marilyn Helen Zahn Burns, his sister Rosa Beth Burns Gibson and her husband Terry; his doting aunts Mary Jane Zahn (Glen) Scanlon and Judith Diane Zahn (Norman) Douglas; and many beloved aunts-in-law and cousins, including Caldwell’s Johnette Broden (Joe) Martin and Cindy Broden (Gary) Landry. He was preceded in death by his father, Charles C. “Rowdy” Burns, and by his infant brother David Charles Burns.
Bob/Bobby was delivered by Dr. Leon Kinnan, in Caldwell, Kansas, on September 6, 1952, during the Sumner County Fair, at the Caldwell hospital on the northwest corner of Main and Avenue A, to Marilyn Helen Zahn Burns and Charles Corval “Rowdy” Burns.
Bob graduated from Caldwell High School in 1970. While he didn’t follow his sister to attend the University of Kansas, he was one of the Jayhawks’ premier fans, especially of the often-acclaimed men’s basketball teams.
A lover of nature in all of its forms, Bob’s particular pleasure out of doors was fishing with friends. And he loved driving through Caldwell and the surrounding country to find fox, pheasant, turkey, deer, quail, and more. He enjoyed activities such as hunting and bowling when he was physically capable of doing so. Bob loved the many canine and feline companions he took care of over the years, and they returned his love unconditionally. Sunny, the MalChi (Maltese and Chihuahua) Bob “inherited” from his mother had been his constant companion for 13 years. Sunny preceded Bob in death, spending her final days exploring with Ron “Ratchete” Wylie’s dogs the land that Bob loved to visit and where Bob, Ratchete, and others fished together. Bob nurtured Sam, a Chihuahua, from puppyhood. Over two years old now, Sam is flourishing with Niki Lamb, one of Bob’s and his mother’s nurses at Sumner County Hospital District #1 (though Niki and her family would not describe life with Sam as an easy one).
Bob was employed for more than 40 years in the aerospace field in Wellington where he developed scores of friendships with colleagues near and far (other parts of the U.S. and the world). When Bob retired in 2012, tributes rolled in from these colleagues. Here are just a few typical comments:
- You have a whale of a work ethic!
- I learned a lot from you.
- Your honesty, professionalism and respectfulness have made it a great pleasure working with you over the years. You have always met and exceeded expectations! You were always dependable and either had the right answers to those tough questions or were able to help find them.
- You built great relationships with coworkers, vendors, airlines, and the FAA.
- We have always appreciated your honesty and faithfulness to our office.
- You always treated me with trust and respect.
- Forty years of helpful counsel to your associates and wise leadership is a record of service which few achieve!
You may not know that there’s a Caldwell connection between such diverse items as cigars, oysters, doughnuts and fish bait . . . In the late 1800’s Pinkerton Agency detective Charlie Siringo sold oysters and cigars from one of Caldwell’s oldest historic buildings on the east side of Main Street (the building just south of Sugar Sisters). A century later Bob bought the building and established Bob’s Bob-In. Another “Charlie” (Marilyn’s New York State family called Rowdy Charlie) managed Bob’s Bob-In while Bob worked. Rowdy drove to Wellington at dawn every day to pick up Daylight Doughnuts and sold bait, baseball cards, and baked goods from Bob’s Bob-In, often assisted by his sister, Bob’s aunt Doris Burns Broden, better known to many as “Grandma Grunt.”
Bob loved Caldwell, his home town. Following his retirement, Bob played dominos with friends, “opened” the Red Barn with Carol Dennis and Jessica Weir every morning at 6 a.m. and sat at the head of the Knowledge Table, kibitzed mornings and afternoons with the One Stop gang, supported friends in need, fished and championed Fishing Derby Day at Ron Wylie’s spread, and enjoyed time with his dogs.
Bob suffered pain for most of his life, having been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 13. Throughout it all, he maintained a work record to be admired. Yet Bob’s faithfulness as a son was always front and center. After Rowdy’ death in 1998, Bob supported Marilyn through multiple hospitalizations and several moves—from her home to an apartment in Friendship Village, from Friendship Village to Phoenix House, from Phoenix House to Cherished Friends in Wellington, and from Cherished Friends back to Caldwell’s Sunflower Cottage. Friends in all of these locations tell of Bob’s daily or near daily visits to his mother. Bob made it possible for his mother to celebrate her 90th birthday in Kauai, Hawaii, with Rosa Beth and Terry.
Memorials may be given in memory of Bob to the Caldwell Sportsman’s Club or to the Sumner County Hospital District #1 in care of Schaeffer Mortuary, 6 North Main St., Caldwell, KS 67022.
A memorial service will be held later in the new year.