Lenard William Burns • January 23, 2021

Lenard William Burns
1923 – 2021

Lenard William Burns was born on November 13, 1923 on a farm just outside of Truman, Arkansas. He was the second oldest of six children that included Cornelius, Etta Mae, Iva Ruth, Ernest and Zora Lee.
Lenard would tell stories of working on the farm, in the family’s gristmill, picking fruit during the summer in Michigan, and that he attended a one room school house. His family moved from the farm to Truman and eventually they moved from there and settled in Norfolk, Virginia.
Around the age of 19, Lenard traveled from Norfolk to visit his cousin back in Truman. It was then when Lenard met the love of his life, Betty Jo Henley, she was a senior in high school with Lenard’s cousin. When he returned to Virginia they continued to correspond, and once Betty completed school they were married and began their life together in Norfolk in 1943. They were married for 64 years and raised two daughters Delores (Dee) and Patsy (Pat).
During their 64 years together they lived in Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and Florida, but no matter where Lenard’s work took them their number one priority was each other and their girls. Together they created a loving and happy home making sure that their girls were taken care of.
Lenard’s wife and daughters were always the most important thing in his life and he worked many different jobs in order to provide for his family. Whether it was clerking in a grocery store, working in a factory, working maintenance, or working as a millwright, he always gave 100% toward the endeavor.
During the World War II, Lenard’s father-in-law, John D. Henley, took him under his wing teaching him to be a millwright, setting and leveling heavy machinery in power plants. They were both hired to help build a plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, not knowing what they were building only that it would eventually help end the war. After it was completed they learned that it was the plant that built the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
After leaving Tennessee both families settled in the Corpus Christi, Texas area where Lenard continued to follow the millwright trade, working on power plants, oil refineries, and dams. The down side to this was the moving from place to place and his girls having to change schools. Taking this into consideration Lenard and Betty decided to relocate back to Norfolk, Virginia where Lenard accepted a maintenance job with his brother-in-law until both girls graduated from high school.
After becoming empty nesters they decided to go back to Texas and the job that he loved most, and eventually building a house on Lake Mathis. Lenard and Betty loved to go fishing and spent many days out on Lake Mathis fishing for crappie and enjoying being together. Their freezer was always kept full. Lenard continued in the millwright profession until retiring and moving to Pensacola, Florida.
After retiring Lenard and Betty started woodworking together, Lenard would build and Betty would paint what he built. They built and painted some very unique birdhouses, planter boxes, plant stands, Christmas deer, candle holders, and whatever else that Betty decided that she wanted or caught their eye. They spent hours enjoying the companionship and just being together.
Lenard was an excellent carpenter and he remodeled the family’s homes, adding rooms, removing walls, raising roofs, adding screened in porches and decks, running electric and plumbing. There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do and do well, and through every project Betty was right beside him helping.
Lenard loved baseball and eventually won Betty over to the sport becoming avid followers of the Houston Astros. He was also a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. After retiring to Pensacola, Florida he changed his teams to the Atlanta Braves and the New Orleans Saints, until he finally became a fan of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays. He loved baseball above all other sports and could watch the game for hours.
Lenard loved country music, his cowboy boots and hats, western shirts, western movies (John Wayne being his favorite), working in his shop, and playing pool. But his greatest love and joy was his wife Betty and his two daughters. Lenard was a gentle, loving man, always willing to help his family, and anyone else who needed a helping hand, always generous with his knowledge, skill and time. He was well liked and loved by everyone he met.
Lenard passed away on January 23, 2021, in Hastings, Florida, and has finally been reunited with his beloved wife Betty, his parents Claud and Stella Burns, brother Cornelius, sisters Iva Ruth, Etta Mae and Zora Lee. He is survived by his loving family, daughter and son-in-law Delores and Daniel Thomas of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, daughter and son-in-law Patsy and Stanley Brooks of Hastings, Florida, grandchildren Raymond Marsh of Chesapeake, Virginia, Threasa Marsh of Raymore, Missouri, and Kimberly Pace and husband Ken of Tampa, Florida, and great grandchildren, Kory Blevins, Victoria Marsh, Colyn de Ross, Austin Pace, and brother Ernest Burns and 3 great, great grandchildren.
The family will receive family and friends on February 8, 2021, at Pensacola Memorial Gardens Funeral Home at 9:00 am to 10:00, services begin at 10:00 am.

  1. Mehgan E Cash says:

    My husband and I bought Lenard’s Pensacola home in 2012. We were first-time homebuyers and had no idea what we were doing. When we made the offer on the home, the only thing Lenard counter-offered with was that he wanted to keep the birdhouse that was on the workshop in the backyard, to which we agreed of course. But then we found out how much closing costs would be and realized we could not afford them. Lenard graciously offered to pay them for us.

    we’ve lived in this home for 8 years now. We’ve brought in multiple dogs and a cat, have done some updating around the house, and sadly not kept the yard as beautiful as Lenard did, but we’ve made it a wonderful home, and we have Lenard to thank for that.

    To his family, I’m so sorry to see that he’s passed. Please know that he touched the hearts of 2 newlywed and naive strangers and gave them a beautiful gift. After reading his obituary, I am not at all surprised that he offered to pay closing costs. It seems now like that was just the person he was–kind and generous. We will always be grateful to him and hope to follow his example and pay it forward in a similar fashion one day.

    Mehgan Cash
    [email protected]

  2. Connie Williams says:

    you are truly missed. as a big family we had do many family gatherings… then our big family started dying off. our gathering were no more. I loved that you wore cowboy hats and boots. you had a gentle sole…you had a full life here on earth. I was praying that your whole family was there at the gates to welcome you.. that is the way I want to believe that is how we are all welcome in to heaven, that our family is there waiting on the rest of us. RIP Uncle Lenard….tell everyone hello for me. Tell my mother that I am doing good. love you Connie

  3. Debbie Foreman Tilghman says:

    I looked forward to y’alls visit every summer. The whole family together, in grandma and grandpa’s yard. A nice fish fry and cook out we would have. Along with homemade ice cream. It was so long ago, but felt just like yesterday. I loved your cowboy hat and boots. They were the best. Your smile and laughter will be missed. You were a gentle soul and a good man. One day we will have a reunion again.

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