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Thomas Joseph Burns

December 27, 1949 - June 12, 2021


Tom was born in the Old Victorian Hospital in Kaslo on December 27, 1949, to Ted and Elaine Burns. He was very premature weighing just over 2lbs. It was touch and go for weeks but the nuns pulled him through by keeping him in a chick incubator to keep him warm. Mother, his brother Teddy and Betty Olsen brought him home to Ainsworth in the spring.

Tom was born with cerebral palsy which dogged Tom his entire life. At one point our family doctor told our mother not to have high expectations, “Life is likely to be a struggle for Tom”. The trouble was, no one told Tom that, so he just assumed he was normal and set out to do everything other boys did and did them well.

After Ainsworth, the family moved to Nelson and then on to California where Tom did well in school. Tom played Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. Tom also excelled at swimming and added a good deal of weight and muscle because of it.

The family returned to Nelson in the 1960’s where Tome played high school basketball for the LVR Bombers. After graduation, Tom went to Mt. Royal College in Calgary then on to UBC where he earned a teaching degree, he kept active playing hockey.

After graduating from UBC, Tom taught in Burns Lake, Fort St. John, Bella Bella, and numerous locations in the Kootenay’s as well as the Fraser Valley and SW States. Later in his teaching career he taught English in Japan, China, and Korea.

Tom was an avid traveler and was named after his maternal grandfather, Thomas Joseph Flynn, a world traveler himself.

Tom was well loved and a journey down Baker Street sometimes took him hours as he stopped and greeted friends with his infectious smile and laughter. He will be missed.

For all his wanderlust, there was one constant in Tom’s life, the one place he loved above all, Nelson.

Tom is survived buy his brother Teddy (Barbara), sisters Kathleen (Steve) and Susan. He is also survived by nephews Wes (Brooke), Darren (Arami), niece Jaclyn (Justin), great nephews Ethan, Ben, Blake and great niece Lauren and many cousins.

The family would like to thank Dr. Richard Milde for his dedication and care. The family would also like to thank the staff at Kootenay Lake Hospital and Mountain Lakes Seniors Community for their kindness and care.


Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

Pages: 12

From: Thompson Funeral Services Ltd.

Thompson Funeral Service Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Robert And Carole Slade

To Sue and Tommy’s Family, Please accept our sincere condolences . We are thinking of you in our prayers.

From: Shirley Tennant
Relation: Acquaintance

Birth and death are bookends to a person’s life. It is all the stuff that happened between that is important. I know of you from my volunteer work and know that you have brought a lot of special friendships and smiles to numerous people. I am sure you have many people in your life that love you and that you love….a life well lived. I , along with so many Nelsonites will miss seeing you on Baker Street and catching up. Rest in Peace Tom.

From: Meg Stewart
Relation: acquaintance

I’ll miss connecting with Tom at the Nelson Spiritual Centre, at the gym and around Nelson. Such an interesting man. RIP Tom

From: Candace Holt
Relation: He did some work at Community Services, where I worked, and we got to know each other.

My sincere condolences to the family of Tom Burns. I met Tom some years ago and we used to have conversations about various things. As with many people, I think, I’d run into him in Nelson and we’d have a catch-up walking together if going the same way, or stopping for a few minutes if going different ways. I was always happy to see him, and we seemed to have similar views on things. Awhile back I was wondering about him as I hadn’t seen him for a bit.

From: Josh Wapp
Relation: We met through friends and he stayed at my place for a few months, before he went off to China to teach English. .

Goodbye, Tom. I hope we meet again in the next lifetime. You were always an inspiration; your dedication to fitness and how you were able to do so much despite your limitations. I will also miss your big laugh!

From: Murray Lashmar
Relation: Friend

I’ve known Tom since High School and even though I moved to Vancouver, I’d often run into him when I was visiting Nelson, over tea at a coffee shop or a chat on the street. He was a great guy, friendly and open, and I always looked forward to the possibility of seeing him when visiting. I, too, have a background in education and I was always interested to hear about all the places he’d been. I’d last seen him 3 years ago at Oso Negro, when he told me of his health challenges. I’d tried unsuccessfully to connect with him several months ago, and then yesterday was deeply saddened to hear that he’d passed away. My condolences to his family and friends – he will definitely be missed.

From: Sheila Marlene Dixon
Relation: Long time friends and members of Eckankar

Tom was a dear friend of mine and I will miss him. We attended Eckankar events together and had many great discussions over the last 40 years. Tom was kind and supportive during life’s ups and downs, perceiving things through a spiritual lens, always doing his best to see the Big Picture. Our last phone call was just before his hip surgery which turned out to be too much for his frailty. Our shared perspective was and will continue to be a lasting bond of deep friendship. May the Blessings Be.

From: Emily Beamer
Relation: Tom was a friend of my father

Sending many condolences for the loss of Tom Burns. Tom was a friend of my father, Ross Beamer. I lost my father 10 years ago overseas, & not many people in Nelson remembered him, except Tom. They had worked together. I would often run in Tom at Oso Negro & he would talk with me about my dad & it meant so so much to me. He was always so kind hearted & generous. I always appreciated him. Bless his heart.

From: Laura Sherret
Relation: friend

I am very sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. I knew for a brief period only but have fond memories of him. He came to my mind just a short time ago and I smiled at the memories of him.

Pages: 12

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