Andrew J. Burns Jr., delegate, dies

Andrew Joseph "Andy" Burns Jr., a retired lawyer and veteran Northeast Baltimore legislator who had served in the state legislature for nearly two decades, died Nov. 12 of pneumonia at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 83.

Mr. Burns — a scion of an old East Baltimore political family — was born in Baltimore and raised in the 2300 block of E. Cold Spring Lane in Hamilton.

His grandfather, Andrew J. Burns, was described at his death in 1922 by The Baltimore Sun as a "political power in East Baltimore for 40 years."

Andrew J. Burns, his father, who also had been active in the political affairs of the old Third Ward of the First District, and died in 1970, was recalled in his Baltimore Sun obituary as a "prominent figure in Democratic Party politics in East Baltimore."

After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1945, Mr. Burns enlisted in the Navy during the waning days of World War II, and served as a cryptographer aboard the attack cargo ship USS Washburn.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1950 and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War, where he served in combat aboard the destroyers USS Putnam and USS Chandler.

He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant and remained active in the Naval Reserves.

While studying at the University of Maryland Law School, Mr. Burns worked in real estate sales. He began practicing law in 1960 after earning his law degree and admission to the Maryland Bar.

Mr. Burns first was elected to the House of Delegates in 1966, where he served for 16 years, until losing his bid for a fifth term in the 1982 September primary.

During his tenure in the legislature, he was a member of the Judiciary Committee and Baltimore Convention Center Committee and chaired the Civil Laws Committee.

He failed in two attempts — in 1983 and again in 1987 — to win election to the Baltimore City Council.

"Andy was always an independent thinker and member of the House and he didn't care who he ran up against politically," said U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, who had served in the House of Delegates with Mr. Burns.

"He was very much involved in his community and always tried to do his best for his constituents. He could drive leaders a little crazy because they never quite knew where he'd be on an issue; nonetheless, he was a very effective legislator," Mr. Cardin said.

Mr. Cardin said as Mr. Burns' district changed, he "remained a stable force from the view of voters."

In a condolence letter to Mr. Burns' family, Mr. Cardin wrote, "I hope that your memories of your father's dedication to public service, his good deeds and time with family will bring you comfort in the days ahead."

Likewise, in a letter of condolence, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski recalled Mr. Burns' high standards.

"Delegate Burns set high standards for performance in both his personal and his political life and inspired others to conform to his expectations," she wrote.

"I remember him well from my earliest days in public office. He represented the people of his constituency with vigor and worked hard for the common man," Senator Mikulski wrote.

She praised Mr. Burns for being from the "old school" and for embracing "traditional American virtues of honesty, hard work and fair play."

She added: "He practiced them every day of his life" and he "meant so much to so many."

Mr. Burns had been the bulwark of the Bellona-Gittings Community Association, which he had headed for 12 years.

Mr. Burns continued practicing law at his Harford Road office in Hamilton until retiring in 1995.

He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He held a private pilot's license and enjoyed flying, traveling, singing and photography.

Mr. Burns was a communicant and lector at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Nov. 18.

Surviving are five sons, Andrew J. Burns IV of Parkville, Raymond B. Burns of Hampden, Richard T. Burns of Reva, Va., Patrick T. Burns of Bel Air and Christopher T. Burns of Overlea; and a grandson. His marriage to the former Shirley Nina Taylor ended in divorce. Another son, Michael T. Burns, died in 1979.

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