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Obituary: Richard K. Burns

Richard K. Burns, 72, former Director of the Falls Church Public Library, died April 2 at Fairfax Hospital of leukemia. He was also being treated for lung cancer and emphysema.

Mr. Burns served as Director of the Falls Church Public Library from 1960-71. During his tenure, he oversaw the addition of a new children’s and technical services wing, which doubled the library’s public space.

After leaving the library, Mr. Burns settled in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where he co-founded Legacy Books, a distributor of books on American folklore, and served as Editor and chief reviewer for Come-All-Ye, a review journal for folklore literature. He was also a frequent book review contributor to Library Journal. He returned to Northern Virginia in 2006 to live with his daughter.

Mr. Burns was born in Black Mountain, Kentucky, and graduated from Morehead State University and the University of Illinois, where he earned his master’s degree in library science. He came to Northern Virginia after working at the Louisville Public Library and playing in the percussion section of the Louisville Symphony.

Mr. Burns took a leave of absence from the library directorship to serve on the staff of the National Advisory Commission on Libraries in 1967, and helped edit the Commission’s final report in 1969. He was active in the American Library Association, serving on numerous committees and as Chairman of the Potomac Valley Chapter. He also served on the Executive Board of the Virginia Library Association and as Editor of their quarterly journal, the Virginia Librarian. He was President of the District of Columbia Library Association in 1970-71.

His marriage to Frances Forgione Burns ended in divorce. Survivors include his companion of 35 years, Lillian Krelove; his brother David of Washington, DC; his daughter Nina Kwartin of Vienna, VA; his son Judge K. Burns of Gahanna, OH; and 6 grandchildren.