Edith Maria Burns, a special education teacher and avid collector of books and dolls, died Sunday of complications from lung cancer at Gilchrest Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 48.
Born and raised in Cherry Hill, Ms. Burns was a 1971 graduate of Western High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in special education at Coppin State College, and a master's degree in educational administration from Morgan State University.
Ms. Burns worked most recently in the special education department of Baltimore's public schools. She previously taught for more than two decades at Moravia Park Primary and Chinquapin Middle schools.
Ms. Burns' home in Loch Raven was filled with evidence of her hobbies: a collection of dolls, including more than 100 Daddy's Long Leg figurines - African-American-inspired dolls - and stacks of books ranging from mysteries and novels to Bibles. She helped found a local chapter of the Go on Girl! Book Club and often attended doll conventions.
Ms. Burns also loved singing and was a member of several choirs, including the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Mass Choir and the Heaven 600 Choir. She especially loved the hymn, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow."
Her greatest passion, however, was teaching and mentoring young people. "I think her life revolved around children," said her older sister, Gwendolyn Lindsay of Lochearn. "Everyone wanted to be her godchild."
While hospitalized in July, Ms. Burns encountered a former student who was working as a phlebotomist. The woman came to draw the patient's blood and cried out in emotion when she saw it was Ms. Burns, Mrs. Lindsay said.
The former student told how Ms. Burns helped her in the third grade when school officials said she could not learn and would never achieve fourth-grade skills.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Payne Memorial, 1714 Madison Ave.
Ms. Burns is also survived by three other sisters, Sieglinda Habersham of Owings Mills, and Myrika Awoyera and Kim Burns, both of Baltimore; four brothers, Howard Burns of Hagerstown, Anthony Burns of Homewood, Ill., and Rudolph and Roderick Burns, both of Baltimore; and an aunt and godmother, Edith Bowman of Washington.