Joan Burns was a passionate Tigers fan, gracious entertainer

Monday, September 16, 2013 | 8:21 p.m. CDT; updated 11:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 16, 2013

COLUMBIA — Living in a home near Memorial Stadium, Joan Fletcher Burns was a spirited Tigers fan.

She and her husband, Thomas Burns, always tailgated during games.

"She was a fabulous cook, almost gourmet," said her daughter-in-law, Tootie Burns. "She loved to entertain."

Mrs. Burns, of Columbia, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. She was 81.

She was born on Jan. 14, 1932 in Oakland, Calif., to Lawrence and Lilian Fletcher.

Mrs. Burns moved to Columbia after her junior year of high school to complete her degree at Stephens College.

She later studied for a degree in nursing at the University of California, Berkeley but left her studies to marry her husband, Thomas Burns, whom she met on a double date. The couple moved to Cairo, where Thomas Burns worked in a medical research unit. 

After two years abroad, the family moved to Columbia so Thomas Burns could work at the MU School of Medicine. At first, he only signed a three-year commitment, but they ended up staying in Columbia for 58 years.

Mrs. Burns always worked to make others feel more comfortable, Tootie Burns said. She often volunteered at the Eugenia Wyatt Guest House, part of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, and other organizations.

"She was a very quiet, kind person, and I think she will be remembered for that," Tootie Burns said. "Nothing was ever too much trouble for her; she was so gracious."

Mrs. Burns is survived by three sons, Tom of Alexandria, Va., Jim and his wife, Susan, of Mill Valley, Calif., and Richard and his wife, Tootie, of Columbia; a daughter, Margaret Bavasi and her husband, Bob, of Everett, Wash.; and seven granddaughters, Haley Bavasi, Emily Bavasi, Kaitlin Burns, Alison Burns, Mary Catherine Burns, Lily Burns and Margot Burns.

Her husband, Thomas Burns, died earlier.

Arrangements are still being made for visitation and services.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Cosmopolitan International Diabetes Center, 1 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65212; Ellis Fischel Eugenia Wyatt Guest House, 1 Hospital Drive,  Columbia, MO 65212; or a charity of one's choice.

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