You are viewing the print version of this article. Click here to view the full version.
Columbia Missourian

Joan Fletcher Burns, Jan. 14, 1932 — Sept. 10, 2013, of Columbia

By Parker Funeral Service
September 16, 2013 | 1:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Joan Fletcher Burns, wife of Thomas W. Burns (deceased), mother to four children and grandmother to seven beautiful granddaughters, passed away peacefully on September 10, 2013.

Joan will be laid to rest beside her husband, Thomas, in a private ceremony at Columbia Cemetery. Other arrangements are pending.

Joan began life just after breakfast in the kitchen of her parents' home in Oakland, California, on January 14, 1932. Joan joined sister, Lila, 51 weeks her senior, to complete the family of Lawrence and Lilian Fletcher.

Joan and Lila were blessed with an incredible childhood full of family, fun and opportunity. Both girls grew up and attended the local schools in Piedmont, California, near San Francisco. The balance of life in those youthful years was spent with their maternal grandparents who lived on Blackhawk Ranch in Diablo, California. From her grandfather, Joan learned the finer points of ranching including milking cows, herding sheep, picking walnuts and stemming gooseberries.

After her junior year at Piedmont High, Joan was sent to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, to complete her high school education. Little did she know that fate would soon bring her back to this small, idyllic corner of the world.

Joan spent her three years of college at the University of California, Berkeley intending to earn a degree in nursing. Instead, a random double date brought her within the gravitational pull of a handsome and charming young Navy doctor and the world lost another nurse. They eventually married at Joan’s home in Piedmont. Three months later, the young couple were on a ship bound for Cairo, Egypt, where Tom was assigned to a medical research unit. Their two incredible years of adventure in Egypt included the birth of their first two children, Tom and Margaret.

With Tom’s discharge in late 1954, the family returned to California for a brief period before Tom accepted a position at the newly expanded University of Missouri Medical School in Columbia. A three-year commitment turned into 58 years and two lifetimes. Joan had her hands full with two children and then numbers three and four, Jim and Richard.

Joan was the consummate "mom" to her children and their many friends who spent time playing at their home on Providence. While strict with the rules, she had a mischievous side that allowed her to rough-house on the floor, engage in impromptu games of “egg toss” and turn a blind eye to the many small infractions committed every day by four growing children.

She and Tom greatly enjoyed the many gatherings they hosted over the years at the Providence house where she entertained effortlessly with warmth and welcome.

Those who knew Joan remember that, besides Columbia, her favorite place on earth was Del Mar, California. Before she could walk, she was crawling along the beaches of Del Mar looking for shells and sandcrabs with her parents and sister. She began taking her own family there in 1956, beginning another tradition that would last 50 years.

Joan loved Columbia and participated in many civic activities and organizations including the Cecile Circle of King's Daughters, Boone County Medical Society Alliance (Past President), Kappa Kappa Gamma (50-year member), and the Jefferson Club – MU Alumni Association Life Member.

Joan’s biggest impact, however, came from the generous and ongoing support she provided to better the lives of patients and their families in Columbia and beyond. Those benefited include the Ernest and Eugenia Wyatt Guest House at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, The Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, The Cosmopolitan International Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, as well as numerous grants to sustain and improve medical education at the University of Missouri Medical School.

Joan is survived by her children, Tom Burns of (Alexandria, VA), Margaret Bavasi (Bob, Everett, WA), Jim Burns (Susan, of Mill Valley, CA), Richard (Tootie, Columbia, MO) and granddaughters: Haley Bavasi, Emily Bavasi, Kailtin Burns, Alison Burns, Mary Catherine Burns, Lily Burns, and Margot Burns; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins; and the many “adopted” sons and daughters added along the way including Elaine Rehmer, Danny Patterson, Dale Smith, Timothy Flynn, Don Schaefer, Steve Gill and Gus Svahn.

The family is eternally grateful to Debbie Critchfield and her staff at Home Instead Senior Care for the abundance of love and exceptional care provided for mom every hour of every day since 2006.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Cosmopolitan International Diabetes Center, D109 Diabetes Center, 1 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65212; the Ellis Fischel Eugenia Wyatt Guest House, 1 Hospital Drive, DC066.00, Columbia, MO 65212; or a charity of your choice.

Online condolences may be left for the family at