Norman T Burns
By Phillip R Smith   
October 14, 2010

Norman T Burns (1930-2010)

Norman T. Burns, of Benita Blvd., Vestal, passed away surrounded by loving family on March 18, 2010 in Oakland CA., due to complications following a stroke.

Born July 25, 1930, in Brooklyn, NY to immigrant Irish and Scottish parents John and Elizabeth (Donaldson) Burns, Norman played scully and stickball on Chauncey Street. He developed a lifelong enjoyment for the game of baseball by watching his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers from the bleachers at Ebbetts Field with his father, who worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. Norman and 2 of his 4 siblings were the first of their family to attend college.

After graduating from Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn in 1948 he went on to Queens College with a scholarship, graduating in 1952. He then attended the University Of Michigan where he met his future wife, Dorothy O'Neill. Norman and Dorothy were wed August 25th 1958 in Ann Arbor.

From 1962-1968, he was head of publication services at the Institute of Science and Technology at Willow Run, an affiliate of UM. He graduated with a PhD in English from the University of Michigan in 1967. A scholar of John Milton, Norman wrote the highly regarded book, “Christian Mortalism from Tyndale to Milton,” which was published by the Harvard University Press in 1972. He joined the staff of the English department at Binghamton University from 1968 until his retirement in 1991. During his tenure at Binghamton, Norman also served in several administrative capacities. These included Director of Graduate Studies in English, Department Chair, and Associate Dean of Administration in Harpur College.

Norman was a 42 year resident of Vestal.

He was a longtime member of the Milton Society. He and his wife spent a portion of 14 years living in Oxford, England. Travel and poetry were two of his great pleasures. Norman was at his most vulnerable when he read poetry at the breakfast or dinner table. His eyes would well up with tears and he would choke up. He read the greats, writers who spoke for all of us on the enigma of life amid the stars, trying to grasp the enormity of the “why” of our lives, not the getting and spending.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Dorothy O’Neill Burns (of Vestal, NY) and sons Andrew Burns (of Barcelona, Spain), Hugh Burns, and wife Chih Hui, daughter Emily Castelli and husband Pete and four grandchildren all of Berkeley California as well as many, many close friends.

Mr. Burns was laid to rest in a private burial at Sunset View cemetery in El Cerrito California on April 2, 2010In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in his name to: Gruber Family Scholarship at Binghamton University or the Jewel & Bob Hoogstoel International Scholarship Fund at the Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro 27402

Obituary submitted by his son, Andrew Burns.

Norman T Burns - may you rest in peace.