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Wendell H. Burns

July 23, 1942 March 21, 2017
Wendell H. Burns
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Obituary for Wendell H. Burns

Following a long extended illness, Wendell Harold Burns passed away on March 21, 2017. Wendell was born July 23, 1942 in Morgan Park, Illinois to Katherine and William Burns. In 1947 his family moved to Maywood where he was raised in the Catholic faith. He attended St. James Elementary School, St. Phillip Basilica High School, and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. While enrolled in college in St. Paul he met his wife Carol (Mills) Burns. Wendell and Carol moved to Maywood where they raised four children.

Determined to continue his education and complete his degree, Wendell enrolled at Roosevelt University and he earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies. He later earned a master’s degree in English from Chicago State University.

In 1964 Wendell began working for RR Donnelley & Sons Lakeside Press as a Journeyman. After 35 years of service, he retired as a Senior Editor. He had a second career as a lecturer within the English departments at Triton Community College and Chicago State University. He was beloved by students for his innovative approaches, such as incorporating hip hop into his Black American poetry course.

Throughout his life he was involved in several civic and community organizations, which included being a scout leader and serving as a member of the local school board. He contributed to numerous charitable organizations, such as the ACLU, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes and Special Olympics.

Wendell’s interests included photography, politics, music and literature. He was particularly interested in literature regarding African-American sociology, psychology and racial identity. He was a jazz and blues aficionado who loved to share his extensive collection with friends and family. He was a loyal Chicago Bears fan and looked forward to watching every game with friends.

Wendell enjoyed and looked forward to the annual Burns family reunion. He also enjoyed spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays with his sons and their families.

Later in life, Wendell spent summers with his sister Sharon (Burns) King, either at their beloved summer home in Michigan (“The King Bee”) or traveling to the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, MS.

He is survived by his children, Russell (Jacqueline), Wendell Jr., Michael (fiancée Alma) and David (Charisse); his grandchildren, Russell Jr., Jordan, Christina, Matthew, Jaelyn, Ryan, Lauren; one Great Granddaughter, Arianna; his brother, Mark (Debbie); his Aunt, Almeda McNutt; brother-in-law, William Mills (Sandra) and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

His wife Carol; his sister, Sharon; and his brother, William, preceded Wendell in death.

Wendell leaves numerous close friends and associates. We will all miss his intellect, tenacious spirit and witty sense of humor.

Visitation Friday, March 31st from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park. A Celebration of Life immediately follows at The Carleton of Oak Park, 1110 Pleasant St., Oak Park from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests you consider supporting one of Wendell's favorite charities (ACLU, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, or Special Olympics).

To plant a tree in memory of Wendell H. Burns, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events





2:00 PM 3/31/2017 2:00:00 PM - 4:00 PM 3/31/2017 4:00:00 PM
Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home

203 South Marion Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home
203 South Marion Street Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Celebration of Life




4:00 PM 3/31/2017 4:00:00 PM - 6:00 PM 3/31/2017 6:00:00 PM
The Carleton of Oak Park

1110 Pleasant Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

The Carleton of Oak Park
1110 Pleasant Street Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

American Cancer Society

PO Box 22718
Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718

March of Dimes

Illinois Chapter
111 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60604

Special Olympics

1133 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

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