After a marriage of 57 years and lives full of music, the Church, and a shared passion for animal rights, Don and Mary Burns of Asheville, NC peacefully passed into their eternal rest; Mary on November 23, 2019 and Don on July 23, 2021. They will be remembered for their love, generosity, humility, and humor.
Donald John Burns, born March 16, 1931 in New York City, showed his exceptional musical talents from an early age. After serving as a pianist in the Marine Corps Band and studying composition at Manhattan School of Music, Don became a prominent Jazz accordion player in New York City in the 1950’s and 60’s. Mary Elizabeth Burns, née Morrison, was born March 13, 1935 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Connecticut and New York. From a young age she was a singer, touring and recording with her sisters Jane and Suzanne as “The Morrison Sisters.”
Following a quick courtship (which began on a memorable first date seeing Bill Evans perform) Don and Mary were married on October 23, 1962. Then they began working together as musicians, first in New York and then in South Florida, where they performed for three decades - Don as a pianist and bandleader, and Mary singing and playing electric bass. Their faith kept them active at Nativity Catholic Church in Hollywood, FL where Don eventually became the organist and music director, and Mary inspired all with her beautiful voice.
Throughout their lives, Don and Mary had enormous hearts for animals, giving a home to seemingly countless lucky dogs and cats, and committing their time and resources to numerous endeavors and organizations promoting the humane treatment of animals and vegetarianism.
After retirement, Don and Mary enjoyed life in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (where they could often be seen riding their bikes to daily mass or singing in the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus), and then in Belmont, NC before finally moving to Asheville.
They are survived by their children, Jim (April), Liz, and Chris (Noelle), and their 7 grandchildren, as well as Mary’s siblings Gene Morrison, Jane Jennings and Suzanne Reynolds. A memorial mass and interment of their ashes will take place at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL on August 20 11:00AM.