Robert Edward Burns, former president of a Baltimore fire protection engineering company, died of cancer Friday at his home in Ocean City, N.J. The former Lutherville resident was 76.
Mr. Burns was born and raised in Alton, Ill., and after graduating from high school enlisted in the Navy in 1948.
On a dare from a fellow seaman, Mr. Burns applied to the Naval Academy. He attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., in 1949 and entered the academy the next year.
In 1954, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force and served with a fire, crash and rescue unit.
After leaving the service in 1959, he went to work in aerospace sales for Bendix Corp. in Rome, N.Y. He later worked in sales with Sylvania Electronics and Radio Corporation of America before moving to Baltimore to take a job with Martin-Marietta Corp. Data Systems in 1976.
In the early 1980s, he became an electrical engineer with Hughes & Associates in Baltimore, designing fire-fighting systems.
"His specialty was establishing fire-fighting schools for the Navy and designing fire-fighting systems aboard naval vessels," said a son, Kevin F. Burns of Rodgers Forge.
In 1993, Mr. Burns and several other employees purchased the business, which he headed until he retired in 1999.
An avid duck hunter, Mr. Burns founded the Big Dog Hunting Club at Elliott Island in Dorchester County in the early 1960s, where for more than 40 years he enjoyed sharing the sport with his sons.
"Dad loved hunting because there wasn't television or other distractions, and it allowed him to have one-on-one conversations with family and friends," said another son, Robert E. Burns Jr. of Linthicum.
Mr. Burns was a communicant of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road in Rodgers Forge, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Also surviving are his wife of 52 years, the former Charlotte Patricia "Patsy" Taylor; three other sons, Richard J. Burns of Haddon Heights, N.J., Andrew T. Burns of Gambrills and Stephen F. Burns of Chicago; three daughters, Dianne Price of Dauphin, Pa., Linda M. Gambill of Cardiff and Mary K. Burns of Ocean City, N.J.; a brother, Terry Burns of Chicago; and 21 grandchildren. Another son, Joseph G. Burns, died in 2004.