Obituary: Burns, William Howard
BURNS, William Howard
April 24, 1922 - September 02, 2012
William “Bill” Burns born April 24, 1922 to Grace and Dave Burns Colfax, Washington.
In 1940 “Bill” graduated from Colfax High School and went on to attend Washington State College majoring in mechanical engineering. During the afternoons, when school would let out for the day, and during summer breaks he worked with his father in their locally owned family business, ‘Burns Auto Parts’.
When the war broke out in 1942 William enlisted in the Aviation Cadets US Army Air Corp where he successfully earned his Pilot’s Wings and was assigned to the 341st at Pinellas Air Field, St. Petersburg, FL.
The following year he was shipped to England and flew with the 55th fighter group in P-38 Lightning and P-51 fighter planes as protection for Bombers over the skies of northern France, Germany, Normandy, and the Air Offence Europe during WWII. During his two tours of combat he flew 94 missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross with clusters, Air Medal with six cluster, two unit citations, the Victory Medal, the European and American Theater ribbons.
In 1945 Captain William Burns was honorably discharged from the US Air Force and returned home to Colfax, WA. and joined the Air National Guard. On April 17th, 1947 “Bill” married the love of his life Marlys Ann Asker.
From 1951-1953 the US Air Force recalled William to active duty shipping him overseas to England for the Korean conflict. He was joined there with his wife Marlys and young son Randy. During the conflict he flew F-86 fighter jets as a ‘Flight Commander’.
August 1953 brought the birth of their daughter in Cambridge, England. Followed in October with an honorable discharge for “Bill”. Once he returned home to Colfax, WA. ‘Burns Auto Parts’ branched out becoming ‘Burns NAPA Auto Parts’ with two additional stores, in Pullman and Moscow.
1954 William became Master of the Masonic Blue Lodge; and for three years a volunteer fireman.
1958 he started a Firestone Tire Store, Crestliner and Fiberform Boat dealership, as well as a Mercury Motor dealership.
1958 - 1967 he was elected Mayor of Colfax for 2.5 terms and was responsible for the Flood Control Project, a New City Hall, Remodeled the Sewage Disposal Plant, covered all open Water Reservoirs, and welcomed Miss Teen USA to the town with a special parade.
1967 “Bill” sold his home and businesses in Colfax, Pullman, and Moscow and moved to Spokane WA with his family. In Spokane he purchased 3 laundromats, 1 laundry and dry cleaner store, and a laundromat route service.
1982-1989 William sold his laundromats, then began selling and building car washes for Hanna Car Wash at Spokane International Airport, many in Spokane, and one in Kenewick.
1985-1989 he built, owned, and operated his own Hanna Car Wash in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.
1989 “Bill” closed his car wash in Coeur d’ Alene and went to work at the new South Hill Safeway Grocery store on 29th Ave. While employed there he was the manager for the Seafood and Bulk Food Depts., he worked in the Deli Dept., and became a most well respected and known boxer for Safeway. He was recognized as always friendly, courteous and willing to share his WWII fighter plane stories to many. When the store on 29th remodeled “Bill” cut the ribbon at the reopening ceremony.
In 1992 he retired.
William Howard Burns was preceded in death by his son Bruce Burns in 1948 and his son William Randall Burns in 2004. He is survived by his wife, of 65 years, Marlys Burns and daughter Lynette Burns.