Cover photo for William Wall "Bill" Burns, II's Obituary
William Wall Burns, II

William Wall "Bill" Burns, II

d. December 21, 2023



Our dad, husband, grandfather, and friend passed peacefully into eternal rest.


True to his character, he bravely and gracefully fought cancer for nearly three years. Right up until the end, he never complained. Throughout it all, he kept visiting the gym almost daily, his happy place. Those 35 laps around the track became his act of defiance, as if each lap added time to his beautiful life.


His stubborn determination and drive that got him through the past few years was instilled in him early in life. From a young age, his mom had him selling everything from potholders to snow cones. When he wasn’t out selling, he was out collecting payments for the family business. Even as his responsibilities with the business expanded to include helping cut and install pipes, somehow, he still found a way to have time to become an Eagle Scout, which was a big deal back then. The hard work, determination, and personal interactions he gained from these experiences laid the foundation for his future accomplishments and how he raised his children.


He received his Bachelor's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan and went on to receive his Master’s degree and PhD in Political Science from Kent State. Whenever he was challenged with adversity, he always remembered the advice from his thesis advisor and mentor, “Get over it, Bill. It’s just an exercise.” He lived by this advice and didn’t worry about what didn’t matter. 


After graduating, he became a Professor of Political Science at Arkansas State until he found his true passion in public service as a City Manager. He served as City Manager for Fairborn and Middletown, Ohio before going on to have a 24-year career leading the City of Fridley in Minnesota. In 2023, he was inaugurated into the Fridley Historical Society and was honored for his contributions.


He was a self-appointed comedian/entertainer and professional ice breaker, always eager to make people laugh, himself included. Whether belting out a song in the most unexpected situations or telling dad jokes so bad they were actually funny, his delivery was always endearing, his charisma undeniable. His humor served as a catalyst for making deep, personal connections.


The most important thing about Bill was his love for family, a love that only grew stronger with age. Whether it was a simple backyard BBQ or a significant life event, he never missed an opportunity to join family gatherings and spend time with his grandchildren.


Bill was the eldest son of W. Wall and Ruth (Griffin) Burns of Hanover, PA. He had three younger siblings; Barb, Chris, and Pat, whom he loved very much.   


He is survived by his wife Roseanne, three children; Jason, Erin, Andrew, eight grandchildren; Kylee, Taylor, Jackson, Lauren, Jillian, Avery, Ellie, Emily and one great-grandchild, Zai. He lives on in all of us.


Until we meet again in Heaven, we will honor his memory. To quote Bill from his final days, “I will always be with you."


A Celebration of Life will be held January 6, 2024.  Please contact the family for details.   


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