Thomas "Pop" Burns II
Thomas Patrick “Pop” Burns II peacefully passed away surrounded by family and friends on April 12, 2018 at Hartford Hospital following a sudden illness. Born on December 13, 1954 in Hartford to Thomas Patrick and June Burns (nee Crosson). Tom leaves behind a legacy of love, music, and community service from years of giving generously of his time and energy to those around him.
He grew up in Hartford’s northwest corner on Granby Street, attending St. Justin’s and then Northwest Catholic High School, graduating in 1973. A year later, he married Sue, his high school sweetheart (though she went to South Catholic, necessitating occasional clandestine work to get around restrictive school dance guest policies and frequent meetings at Hartford Public Library due to its central location between her home in the South End and his above Tower Avenue). He worked in the data center at The Hartford for 40 years, retiring in 2013. He also moonlighted in his true passion – music. He performed as a drummer in various bands, most notably with Hardwood and Friends of a Feather, as well as sitting in with anyone in need of a spare percussionist at bars and clubs throughout the region.
Mr. Burns was a longtime coach and official with the West Hartford Youth Baseball League and West Hartford Girls’ Soccer League, teaching skills and sportsmanship to players on the Dodgers and Tigers, respectively. For years, his home just over the city line in Elmwood overflowed with equipment from Herb’s Sport Shop due to his serving as the soccer league’s equipment manager. He also led the project to build the concession stand at Wolcott Park for the baseball league. Tom volunteered as a tutor through a program managed by The Hartford, and was recognized by the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Hartford as a member of its Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013. Recently, he was an active member of Sequin-Level Lodge #140 A.F. & A.M. and Valley of Hartford Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite lodge, also in Newington. Through the Masons, he was also active with the Hunger Action Team, helping provide for families in need.
Tom is survived by his wife of 44 years and children Emely Larson of Newington and Sean Burns of Rocky Hill, son in law Stephen Larson and daughter in law Julie Burns. He relished his time as “Pop” to grandsons Tommy Burns and Oliver Larson. He is also survived by his youngest sister Patti Burns of Rocky Hill. He was predeceased by his parents and elder sisters Maureen Kalafut and Gail Burns-Smith, whom he famously sparred at family gatherings due to their mutual love of the art of argument. One notable sequence involved her purchasing him a subscription to Ms. Magazine to make her point, which he responded to by making her a member of the National Rifle Association (at a time when that organization was far less extremist than its current incarnation, it should be noted).
He also leaves behind nieces Kerry Smith of Philadelphia and Allyson Ruganis of Manchester and their wonderful spouses Rue Landau and Brian Ruganis as well as nephew David Smith of Monterrey, California. In addition to Tommy and Ollie, grand-nieces and nephews Brennen, Connor and Mollie Ruganis and Eli Smith-Landau are also left to miss his vibrant presence from family gatherings.
Family and friends are invited to gather on Friday, (April 20), from 4-7 p.m. at Sheehan-Hilborn-Breen Funeral Home at 1084 New Britain Ave. in West Hartford to celebrate Tom’s life. Following that, dinner and a reception will be held at the Masonic lodge at 80 Walsh Avenue in Newington. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor can be made to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (endsexualviolencect.org) or the Hunger Action Team (foodshare.org).