John Robert Burns, 77, of Waco passed away peacefully on June 9, 2022 after a very brief battle with cancer. Services will be held on Tuesday, June 14 at the Grace Gardens Funeral Home Chapel, with visitation at 10 AM and memorial service at 11. Rev. René Maciel will be officiating.
John was born October 7, 1944 in San Antonio, Texas to Virginia Lee Jones Burns and Robert Arthur Burns. He grew up in the San Antonio area with his older sisters, Barbara Lee and Beverly Jane, winning fishing tournaments, chasing armadillos with his dog, and placing as a top finisher in school foot races. He played football in junior high, but excelled most at swimming, winning many medals for freestyle and backstroke events. He worked as a life guard and Certified Water Survival Trainer during summers in high school.
After some time in college, he enlisted in the Naval Reserves in 1964. He also worked at Osborne's Food Store where he met his lifelong friend, Ricky Bublitz. Ricky set him up on a blind date with a friend, whom he took to dinner at Big John's Steakhouse and a John Wayne movie afterward. Judy Ann must've had a thing for Johns because that date was the beginning of a relationship that lasted through his active duty in the Navy, deployment to Vietnam during the war, and nearly 54 years of loving marriage, children, and grandchildren.
John served his country bravely and honorably during the Vietnam War. After elite Swift Boat training at Coronado Island, California, he arrived in Cat Lo, South Vietnam in February 1966, and patrolled the Vietnamese coastline on the PCF 25 (Patrol Craft Fast) until December 1966. He then served on the USS Tolovana until August 1967. His supervisor said of his service, "Burns is one of the finest non-rated men I have had opportunity to observe, and certainly one of the most outstanding serving as seaman on a PCF."
He returned to San Antonio in August 1967, worked at National Bank of Commerce, and married Judy Ann Allison in June of 1968. Through out the course of his career, he worked for Otto Dukes Machinery, Mr. M Convenience Food Stores, Stop-N-Go, Diamond Shamrock, and eventually retired from Valero Energy at age 63 as a Human Resource Manager. By that time, John and Judy already had six grandchildren and he moved to Waco, Texas in 2007 in order to be closer to family.
After moving to Houston in 1975, John and Judy joined Bear Creek Baptist Church, where they remained involved members, with John serving on the personnel committee and other volunteer roles, until coming to Waco, where they were warmly welcomed by the community at First Baptist Church Woodway and have found many meaningful friendships and volunteer opportunities over the years. His faith was a constant comfort and guide, and his love for Jesus Christ was born out in the way he treated other people with compassion, kindness, generosity, and love.
John enjoyed outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, especially those that involved his children or grandchildren. He was a member of Legacy Outfitters, spending several years as a leader of the cook team and developing many good friendships during his time in the group. He was an avid reader, notably of Tom Clancy novels, and he was a whiz when it came to fixing problems around the house. He relished the challenge of DIY-work and valued the money saved and lessons learned by doing things himself, and was always ready to pass on his valuable experience. John enjoyed playing cards and spent many years playing Texas hold 'em once a month at his son's house with his poker buddies. He also enjoyed playing poker and bingo at family gatherings with his children and grandchildren, and John and Judy would occasionally play gin together, just the two of them. He enjoyed watching sports, especially the Houston Astros and Baylor Bears. John and Judy made several trips to attend Houston Astros Spring Training in Florida. They regularly attended Astros games while living in Houston and even after relocating to Waco. They followed the Baylor Bears to Phoenix, Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl in 2014.
Most of all, John loved being "Pappy" to his seven wonderful grandchildren and "Honey" to his wonderful wife. His eyes would light up and he'd get a big smile on his face when his grandchildren would come into the room. He cared deeply about each one of them as individuals, always wanting the best for them. He was a true loving companion for Judy, standing by her side as a friend, partner, and servant for over five decades. He was a hero to all of his family: unselfish, steady, trustworthy, wise, kind, funny, joyous, and loving. He will be dearly and deeply missed.
John is survived by wife of nearly 54 years, Judy Ann Allison Burns; son, David Robert Burns and wife Amber; grandchildren, Aleah Karen, Bella Ann, Clara Sidney, Alexander David; daughter, Darci Michele Burns Jernigan and husband Sean; grandchildren, Jack William, Bennett John, and Sidney Cate; sister, Beverly Jane Heinzmann and husband Bob; their children Rob and Kristen and families; sister, Barbara Lee Allen and husband Jim; their children James and Gabrielle and families; sister-in-Law, Sheri Wright and husband Dr. David Wright; their children, Kyle and Allison and families.
The family would like to share a heartful thank you to those who helped care for John during his final days: Dr. Elwell and the nursing staff at Ascension Providence, the staff at Encompass Rehab, and the caregivers at Ascension Providence Hospice, for whose sacred work and gentle spirit the family was especially grateful.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church Woodway God's Toolbox ministry or the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (https://cholangiocarcinoma.org).