Joseph Edward “Joe” Burns, 90, died Thursday, February 5, 2015 at his home in Hermiston surrounded by his family. He was born on February 1, 1925 in Portland, Oregon, the son of John William Burns and Mae (Hanna) Burns. When he was two months old his family moved to Condon, Oregon where he attended grade school and high school. Upon graduation, Joe joined the Army Air Corps and flew missions over Germany as a B-24 bomber pilot with the 8th Army Air Force 389th Bomb Group, stationed in England. After the war, Joe and his brother Charles established a partnership in 1946. They owned and operated Burns Mortuary in Condon and then acquired Prann Mortuary in Hermiston in 1946, creating Burns Mortuary in Hermiston. They sold the Condon Mortuary in 1949 after purchasing the Bomboy’s Mortuary in Pendleton, creating Burns Mortuary in Pendleton. Joe and Charles operated as partners, Joe in Hermiston and Charles in Pendleton for many years. In 1993, Joe retired and sold Burns Mortuary of Hermiston to his sons, Dan and Kevin. While in Condon, Joe discovered that a pretty brown-eyed school teacher had moved from South Dakota to teach at the local school. His route to work each day suddenly changed to pass through the school yard and the rest is history. On June 11, 1949 Joe married that young beauty named Arlene Brockel. They moved to Hermiston, Oregon where they raised their five children. Joe served in a special session of the Oregon State Legislature in 1971, representing Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Wheeler and Grant counties. He was treasurer of the Oregon State Republican Party for three years and was a member of the Oregon State Board of Health from 1969-1971. He was instrumental in the formation of the nonprofit Hermiston Development Corporation and served as its President for its first 29 years. During his tenure nearly six thousand jobs were created in the Hermiston area. Joe was a leader in the community, serving as Chairman of the following organizations: Hermiston Cemetery District, Hermiston Airport Commission, Hermiston Library Board, Good Samaritan Nursing Home Advisory Board, Hermiston Coordinating Council, Western Heritage Savings & Loan, Hermiston City Budget Committee, Hermiston Chamber of Commerce (twice), from whom he received the Distinguished Service Award and was named Man of the Year in 1988. Joe also served on the Hermiston City Council and Good Shepherd Hospital Board of Directors for several years. In 1962 he was honored as Education Man of the Year by the Education Association of Hermiston and in 1986 he received the Volunteer of the Year Award for the State of Oregon, presented by Governor Vic Atiyeh. In 1995 he became the first non-farmer to be chosen for the Oregon State University Agricultural Hall of Fame for his work on improving economic conditions for agriculture in the Hermiston area. At various times Joe was a member of many service organizations, including Rotary International, VFW, Eagles, Elks, and American Legion. Joe was an active member of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church; he was past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. He also served as a member of the Eastern Oregon legislative Advisory Committee to the Baker Diocese and the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Charles and Robert, his sister Anne Bass, grandson Shea and twin granddaughters Amy and April.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years: Arlene Burns, Hermiston; his daughters Lynn Duus (Paul) of Hermiston, and Bev Eagy (Alan) of The Dalles; sons Dan (Cindi), Paul (Billie Jo), and Kevin (Darla), all of Hermiston, sisters: Ethel Park of Pendleton and Garnett Huddleston of Salem, 12 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great granddaughter.
Those who wish may make contributions in Joe’s memory to Vange John Memorial Hospice (Education) or Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church Building Fund c/o Burns Mortuary of Hermiston P.O. Box 289, Hermiston, OR 97838.
Recitation of the rosary will be held on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 7:00 P.M. at Burns Mortuary Chapel, Hermiston, Oregon.
Mass of Christian burial will be held on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 1:00 P.M. at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, Hermiston, Oregon.
Burial with military honors will follow at the Hermiston Cemetery, Hermiston, Oregon.
Please sign the condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon is in care of arrangements.
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