Robert Francis Burns

My father Robert Francis Burns was the youngest of the four surviving children of John Michael Burns and Eva Josephine Tillotson.

Robert was born in Chicago on March 11, 1914. He attended St. Mel Grade School and Austin High School, from which he graduated in 1932. He attended the University of Illinois and received his Bachelor's in Fine Arts (majoring in painting) in 1936. He moved to San Francisco and worked for an ad agency for a few months writing copy and designing ads. In 1937 he took a position at the Museum of Art where he worked at the Information Desk, prepared exhibits, and gave tours to the public.

Robert was called to active duty in San Francisco on February 5, 1941. He served throughout WWII as a member of the army 90th division, first as a member of the third battalion of the 358th, and later at division headquarters. He reached the rank of Major while on active duty. He received several decorations, including the silver star and bronze star with oak leaf cluster among others.

After the end of the war, Robert remained in Paris to attend classes under the Army Educational Program. He began his formal classes at the School of the Beaux Arts on October 15, 1945. He studied with Jean Souverbie, head professor, and Jean Jaudon. During his nearly three months living in Paris, he attended classes, visited art museums, and sketched and painted. One of his paintings was on exhibit at a "student's show." During his time in Paris, he met Paulette Henriette Lequien, whom he later married after returning to Paris in June, 1946. They returned to the United States in 1947.

Robert worked for many years at the Chicago School of Watchmaking as Registrar and Advertising Manager. He also remained in the Army Reserves, reaching the rank of Colonel in 1961. At the USAR school in Chicago he taught classes one evening a week and spent two weeks each summer at a midwest Army installation or at Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth teaching classes.

After he retired in 1974, Robert spent his time painting and taking care of his wife Paulette, who had contracted cancer. Paulette died in 1995. Robert died of cancer in 1999 at age 85.

More details on my father's WWII military career and experiences may be found at

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Last modified by pib on April 11, 2014.