Dr. Burns joined the KHS staff as an assistant principal in 1979 and served a total of 23 years at the high school. He was raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, as one of six children. After his high school years, his family moved to St. Louis. He earned his undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State, his master's degree from University of Missouri at St. Louis, and his doctorate from St. Louis University. Dr. Burns began his career in education as a teacher at Beaumont High School and later moved to University City High School before coming to Kirkwood.
After his retirement in 2002, Dr. Burns continued to mentor, tutor, and teach. He was an adjunct faculty member at several universities in the St. Louis area. Franklin McCallie, former KHS principal and close friend and colleague, refers to Dr. Burns as "one of the most caring, creative, and effective educators I have ever known."
It was Dr. Burns' wish to be an organ donor. Upon his passing, his liver was donated so that another person might live. Dr. Burns is survived by his wife, Debbie, and two sons, Richard, KHS '97 and Jesse, KHS '00.
Family and friends are planning a "Celebration of the Life of Dr. Rick Burns" to be held this coming Saturday, January 14, 2012, in the Keating Theatre, Kirkwood High School. Doors will open at 10:15 a.m. in the Walker Commons for friends to mingle and share memories of Dr. Burns. Family members will be available in the Walker Commons after the ceremony to greet those who loved and admired Rick Burns.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations go to the Rick Burns Fund, which supports Kirkwood High School students. Checks should be made out to Kirkwood School District, memo line: Rick Burns Fund, Community Relations Office, 11289 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, 63122. All donations are tax-deductible.