Fern Louise Burns went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday morning, March 31, 2015. She was residing at Ashley Manor in Hood River, Ore., at the time.
She was born Fern Louise Woodyard on May 18, 1933, in Burlington, Iowa. Her mother immigrated to Minnesota from Switzerland with her family. She was working as a “Candy Striper” in a military hospital during World War I and met her future husband. They moved to Iowa where she was raised with two older sisters and an older brother.
Fern grew up surrounded by a big family and remembers summer evenings with relatives playing accordions and singing; and running and playing with cousins along the Mississippi River. A large part of her life was the church in which she grew up. At the age of 10, she made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized.
She started school at the age of 4½ and attended elementary school and junior high school before moving with her parents to Washington County, Iowa, and graduating from Crawfordsville High School. She attended Washington and Burlington Community Colleges and Iowa Wesleyan College to become a teacher. She taught third grade in Burlington and Bettendorf, Iowa, for five years.
Fern met Charles Burns, who attended Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa, on a blind date. He was from Canada, and after marrying on Oct. 3, 1959, they moved to his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He opened his chiropractic practice and Fern taught school for a short time. Daughters Brenda and Stacey were born in Edmonton and son Scott was born after the family moved to Leduc, a small town just south of Edmonton.
Chuck began his practice and Fern was active in church volunteer work, choir, raising the children and helping with Chuck’s practice. They made many wonderful friends in Leduc, taking many camping and skiing trips to Banff and Jasper National Parks, which remained Fern’s favorite places to this day. She was active in church work and helped start a mission church in Jasper Place, was involved in teaching Sunday school, Pioneer Girls, Women’s Missions and choir.
In 1976, the family moved to San Diego, Calif., where she again became active in church work at Scott Memorial Baptist Church and taught third grade again briefly before she began helping out at Chuck’s office, working there for several years. In 1989, she began working part time at KECR radio, where she worked until 2012.
Fern always enjoyed music and sang and performed in plays and choirs all her life. Scott Memorial, later Shadow Mountain Community Church, choir put on large musical productions that she enjoyed singing in and often had solo parts. It was just as enjoyable to her to be a spectator and she and Chuck enjoyed Big Band Orchestra music and attended many concerts, as well as musical theater at Starlight Theater in Balboa Park.
Another of Fern’s hobbies was reading and she loved historical fiction, poetry and mysteries. She was gifted at friendship and enjoyed life-long friendships with friends and family in Iowa, friends and family in Canada, and in San Diego, she had a special group of friends made up of husbands and wives, who met once a month for dinner and card games, as well as taking trips together to the mountains and the beach.
Fern maintained close relationships with her sisters, nieces and nephews on both sides of the family and cousins, including family in Switzerland, and loved them all. Especially enjoyable were times spent with grandchildren in San Diego and trips to see the grandchildren in Oregon. Her children and grandchildren were special to her and she loved and enjoyed each one.
She and Chuck enjoyed travel and traveled in Canada, Mexico, and all over the U.S. including Hawaii. They were masters at the “long weekend,” just taking off with family and friends to nearby locations in the Southern California Mountains or up to Santa Barbara. Her focus in life was relationships, teaching, enjoyment of the arts, all wrapped up in her love for Jesus.
Fern began having seizures a few years ago, which led to increasing frailty and dementia. Chuck became her care giver and last year, 2014, he moved himself and Fern up to The Dalles retirement home to be near daughter Stacey and son Scott and their families. Sadly, Chuck passed away on Thanksgiving, 2014. Fern moved to Ashley Manor to be near daughter Stacey and her family, where she received loving care until she went home to Heaven.
She is survived by, and greatly missed by, her daughters Brenda and Stacey, son Scott, and grandchildren, Corban and Danielle Tomlinson, Cameron and Caitlyn Burns, and Andrea, James, Andrew, and Patrick Estes; nieces Karen Zickefoose, Connie Waterhouse, Sue Woodard and families, nephews Lyle and Dale Hesseltine and families; nephews and nieces Chuck and Margaret Burns, David Burns, Gordon Burns and Cathy Reese and families; cousins Loretta Albers and Phyllis Green and families, and brother-in law Bill Burns.
Fern wanted this verse read at her Celebration of Life: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. There is more than enough room in My Father’s house. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
In the time before Jesus came to get her, Fern had amazing caregivers at Ashley Manor and nurses and caregivers at Heart of Hospice and the family wishes to thank them all for taking Fern into their hearts. Memorial donations in Fern’s name can be made to Heart of Hospice, 2621 Wasco St., Hood River, OR 97031.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River, OR 97031. Please visit andersonstributecenter.com to leave a note of condolence for family.
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