A History of the Burns Family
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Dave and Wilma  

OVERVIEW
1 - D.A. Burns
2 - Big Lake
3 - Ada & Guy
4 - Ebba & Elna
5 - Don & Helen
6 - Dave & Wilma
7 - Bob & Betty

Farewell

Dave was equal parts energy, warmth, and mischief, and he will be very much missed by the loving family he raised, the successful rug-cleaning business he piloted, and the countless friends he made during his 91 years of exuberant life.  Unpretentious, hardworking, sentimental, generous, affectionate, and full of fun, he was irresistible to all who had the good fortune to know him. 

Born in 1914, Dave was the third child of David and Ada Burns of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  He demonstrated his capacity for hard work and his superb mechanical ability very early by completely rebuilding the chassis and engine of a neighbor’s wrecked Star automobile so that he could drive to the Chicago World’s Fair.  After Dave’s father lost his job during the Depression, and following a failed attempt at farming, the family packed their possessions into a truck and drove to Seattle in 1935, where they managed apartments on Capitol Hill.  Dave worked for a logging company for a while, but when an accidental cleaning-solution spill on an apartment rug resulted in an unexpectedly clean patch, imagination took wing and the family rug-cleaning business, D. A. Burns & Sons Rug and Upholstery Cleaning Service, was born. 

Dave gave tirelessly to the business his whole working life, laboring alongside his parents and siblings in the early years and assuming the role of company president after his father retired in 1954.  He simply loved to work, and could always be heard singing and whistling while he scrubbed the carpets clean or repaired the machinery.  For more than 40 years, he spent most of every day at the “shop,” where no mechanical task was ever too large for him to tackle and no worker’s problems were ever too small for him to try to help.  He was also well-liked and successful in the wider business world, founding a local trade association in the late ‘40s that evolved into the Rug Cleaners Institute of the Northwest.  He served as the Institute’s president, helped establish a similar association serving Western Canada, and served as a respected resource and speaker to many affiliated industry groups.  In 1976, he passed the torch to the company’s current president and owner, Richard Dix, whom Dave came to love like a son.  Even after Dave retired, he visited the shop frequently and could see the D.A. Burns logo painted on the company roof from the deck of his hillside condominium. 

But the central love of his life was his wife, Wilma, who passed away in 2005, and the family they created together.  Dave met and married Wilma in 1937 and never looked back.  Even after 67 years of marriage, he described her as “so beautiful it makes my eyes hurt!”  Dave and Wilma raised their three children—Patty, Linda, and David—in a brick-red house in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle, which also served as the family gathering place for a growing troupe of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  As the family patriarch, he was adored by all as a loving, funny, kind, and giving man who cared deeply about every member of his family. 

Dave spent many happy summer months at the Burns family log cabin on the shores of Big Lake, British Columbia.  He loved fly-fishing, boating, hunting, fixing things, and socializing.  In Canada as at home, Dave’s remarkable way with people made the cabin a social magnet, and he surely earned his informal title as the “Squire of Big Lake.”   During his retirement years, he was often joined at the cabin by family members, including his younger brother Bob, with whom he enjoyed fishing, teasing, and swapping tales and memories.    

Predeceased by Wilma, his brother Don, and his sister Evelyn, Dave is survived by his children and their spouses—Gerald and Patricia Rasmussen of San Juan Island, Peter and Linda Johnson of Kent, and David and Sheila Burns of Toppenish—and his brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Elizabeth Burns of Seattle. He will also be mourned by his grandchildren Tami, Eric, Heidi, Reed, Tim, Chris, Jaleh, and David IV; by his great-grandchildren Andrew, Evan, Clara, Laila, Bless, Olivia, Masio, and J.J.; and by his extended family and friends—all of whom loved him dearly.  

[Obituary]


Eulogies & Tributes

Patty Rasmussen
Ann Parrish
Katherine Vaughan
Roger Engberg

 


 

Wilma Lois Stoffer Burns
1914-2005

Wilma, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away peacefully in her home on March 23rd at age 91. Wilma Lois Stoffer was born with her twin brother Willard on May 18, 1914 in Mantorville, Minnesota. After graduating from high school, she moved with her mother to Seattle at the height of the Depression, and Wilma worked as a nanny for a well-to-do Seattle family. In 1937, she met David A. Burns, Jr., and the couple married after a six-week courtship, eventually raising three children in their Green Lake home.

Blessed with boundless energy, Wilma was a consummate homemaker, a devoted wife, and a wonderful mother who remained a hard-working, active, contributing member of her family, her neighborhood, and her church throughout her life. She had a kind, optimistic, and accepting nature, founded in a deeply-held love of her family and an abiding faith. She never gave up on anyone. She loved gardening, cooking, baking, crossword puzzles, crocheting, and embroidering, and she was accomplished at them all, though her modesty made her quick to deny it. She loved hard work, and often whistled while doing her tasks. On her last day, she had been raking and gardening in preparation for her daughter's arrival.

She was predeceased by her parents and brothers, but is survived by her husband David, and their three children and their spouses, Patti and Jerry Rasmussen of Friday Harbor, Linda and Peter Johnson of Kent, and David and Sheila Burns of Toppenish. She will be deeply missed by her grandchildren and their families Tami and Eric Tonder, Eric Rasmussen and Laura Phillips, Heidi Rasmussen and Erik Mortensen, Reed Rasmussen and Kasey Jahnke, Tim Johnson and Annie Tive, Chris Johnson, David and Betty Burns IV, and Jaleh Burns; her great-grandchildren Andrew, Evan, Bless, Olivia, Clara, Laila, J.J., and Masio; her brother- and sister-in-law Bob and Betty Burns; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Eulogies & Tributes

David A. Burns, III
Patty Rasmussen