With great sadness, her family shares the passing of Barbara Miller Burns of Palo Alto, CA, formerly of New Canaan, on February 13, 2019. Barbara is remembered as a loving mother and wife, energetic volunteer in countless community causes, and a generous spirit who loved helping others.
She was born on September 17, 1935, in Ashland, Wisconsin, the first child of Alvina Sarazen and Roland Miller, and sister to Robert (Bobby) Miller. She grew up enjoying time on the lakes of Wisconsin and at her family's maple sugar farm.
Barbara headed east for her Bachelor's Degree at Simmons College, Boston, where she studied retail. After her junior year, Barbara spent a summer in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, waitressing at the Coonamessett Inn. It was here she met John J. Burns, Jr., of Belmont, Mass., her husband of 58 years.
The couple married in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, in 1958. Barbara worked as a buyer for Bloomingdale's, and John began his finance career at Goldman Sachs. While living in New York, they began raising their family of five children, before relocating to New Canaan, CT in 1979.
A true lover of people, Barbara thrived on connecting with others. She could turn a trip to the grocery store into a social event, and relished the close ties formed in New Canaan's small town atmosphere. Barbara could often be found at the New Canaan Winter Club, the New Canaan Country School, playing tennis or golf at the Country Club of New Canaan, or volunteering for a local organization.
Barbara's charitable and volunteer commitments were numerous. She sat on the Board of the Waveny Care Center and the New Canaan Community Foundation, and was a dedicated supported of the New Canaan Library and NCCS. She helped establish the annual "Swinging for Seniors" golf event that benefited Waveny Care Center. She was a parent's committee member at The Taft School, Trinity College, and Boston College. In 2003, she and John joined several other residents in founding Elm Street Books, to ensure the town always enjoyed an independent bookstore. A member of the New Canaan Garden Club, Barbara was also an avid duplicate bridge player and skiier.
Barbara found her spiritual home at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, where she and John faithfully attended weekly mass. For years she taught after school CCD classes to first graders and was both a volunteer and served on the advisory board of Catholic Family Services. She was a Dame of Malta and visited Lourdes and Jerusalem on pilgrimage.
During the summers, Barbara and John spent time in Cape Cod, returning to the places that brought them together. They loved to travel abroad, and in later years enjoyed regular trips to visit their children in California, and spent winter months in Naples, FL.
After John's death in 2017, Barbara relocated to Palo Alto, CA to be closer to family. She spent the twilight of her life in a sunny clime surrounded by children and grandchildren, and continued to play bridge, enjoy fine dining, friends, and new experiences. Her final moments were peaceful and shared with family.
Barbara is predeceased by her husband of 58 years, John J. Burns, Jr., and her brother, Robert Miller, of Mauston, Wisconsin. She is dearly missed by her children, John J. Burns III, Christine Bent (Steve), Gregory Burns, Timothy Burns (Rachel), and Jennifer Burns (Nicholas Cizek), and seven grandchildren: Blake, Chase, Brooke, Rose, Leah, Iris, and Anton.
A wake will be held Friday, March 1, at Hoyt Funeral Home, New Canaan, from 5-8 p.m., and a funeral mass will be held at St. Aloysius, Saturday, March 2, at 11 a.m. Memorial donations may be sent in Barbara's memory to the New Canaan Community Foundation.