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Celebration of Life: William Joseph Burns

Lifelong educator William (Bill) Joseph Burns passed away on March 15, 2024 at the age of 83 surrounded by his family at Cherrywood, Balfour. He struggled with posterior cortical atrophy, a form of dementia, in the later years of his life.

Bill was born January 4, 1941 to Florence and Louis Burns on a farm in Hubbarston, Michigan.  He was the oldest of 11 children. Bill is survived by his wife Pamela Burns and their two children, Michael Burns (wife Barbie Burns) and Jehnie Burns (partner Brian Blankenship). He was the proud grandfather of four grandchildren, Whitney Burns, Taylor Burns, Matthew Reis, and Andrew Scarlet Reis. Pam and Bill celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary in 2019.

Bill attended St. Mary’s Academy in Carson City from first grade through high school and graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He taught English for 54 years from 1963 to 2017. He started with two years in Grand Rapids, Michigan at St. Isidore’s and Immaculate Heart and four years in Carson City. Pam and Bill moved to Boulder in 1969 for a new teaching job with Boulder Valley School District where he primarily taught Composition. He taught at Boulder High School for 30 years and at Fairview High School for a few years. After retiring from BVSD, he continued to teach, first at Montbello High School in Denver and then at Holy Family High School in Broomfield before retiring again. Throughout his career, Bill always encouraged students, attending their extracurricular events, and supporting their endeavors outside the classroom long after they graduated.

Never one to sit idle, at various times during his career Bill worked with athletes and minority students at the University of Colorado, sold and built fences, sold insurance, and delivered milk.  With his strong work ethic and passion for educating, he always included Mike and Jehnie, inspiring them to follow in his footsteps.

Bill fell in love with sports at an early age, playing basketball at school and community baseball.  He pitched baseball in college. After moving to Boulder, Bill ran multiple Bolder Boulder 10k races, starting with the inaugural race in 1979. He took up skiing at age 65. Continuing his role as an educator, Bill coached, umpired, and kept score at many basketball games; frequently with Mike and Jehnie by his side. He was a founding member and the original president of the
Boulder Valley Umpire Association.

He received the Longevity Award from the University of Denver after he completed his Masters in Comparative Religious Studies, and he received a Presidential Scholar Recipient Award from Cornell University. Pam and Bill traveled extensively in the later part of his life, including a boat trip through the Panama Canal, a cruise around Scandinavia, and a visit to Italy and the Vatican.

In Lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Bill’s name to the William Burns Memorial Fund at Boulder High School. He was devoted to BHS and its students. This fund is intended to create opportunities for student athletes that will lend support well beyond their school experience. Donations can be made at

Or checks can be mailed to:

Boulder High School
Attn: Amanda Smith
1604 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 8302

Please note the William Burns Memorial Fund on any donations.

A Mass to honor Bill’s life will be held at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church (1318 Mapleton Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80302) on June 21, 2024 at 10:00am. A reception will follow at Murphy’s Tap House (585 McCaslin Boulevard, Louisville, Colorado 80027).