HELEN YVONNE BURNS
March 7, 1931 - July 9, 2021
Helen Yvonne Burns - Celebrating Her 85th Birthday (March 7, 2016)
Sound Off Louisiana founder, Robert Burns, pays tribute to his wonderful mom, Helen Yvonne Burns, on Saturday, July 24, 2021.
CLICK HERE for the program for the memorial service.
Helen Yvonne Lee Burns was born in Darlington, LA as the only daughter and youngest child of Edwin Wright Lee and Helen Powell Lee. Yvonne's parents preceded her in death (Wright Lee in 1968 and Helen Lee in 1989).
Yvonne, along with her two brothers, Charles Lee and Alton Lee, are pictured below in the late 1970s at a Homecoming Service at Wesley United Methodist Church in her hometown of Darlington, across the street from where they grew up:
Helen Yvonne Lee Burns, accompanied by her brothers - Alton on her right and Charles on her left.
They grew up in Darlington and worked on the family farm. Alton preceded Yvonne in death in January of 2000, and Charles preceded her in death in November of 2000.
Yvonne graduated from Greensburg High School and subsequently attended LSU before taking a job with a mortgage company in Baton Rouge. Thereafter, she worked for 9 1/2 years at Kansas City Railroad before accepting a position at the State Department of Education. She concluded her working career as a Claims Examiner for the Louisiana Department of Labor in 1986.
On April 13, 1958, Yvonne married Melven Devoy "Bobby" Burns, to whom she was married for over 26 years prior to Bobby's death on October 12, 1984. She did not remarry. She would explain to her son that she was actually dating Warren Sanders when a small group of friends got together one evening and she met Bobby, who was a friend of Warren's, for the first time. She said that she knew right then and there that he was the man for her! Here's a photo of Bobby taken shortly before the 1958 marriage between Yvonne and Bobby:
Melven Devoy "Bobby" Burns, shortly before becoming married to Helen Yvonne Lee on April 13, 1958.
After their marriage, Yvonne quickly saw the adventurous side of her new husband. Although he spent 26 years as an instrument technician at Dow Chemical in Plaquemine, Louisiana, everyone who knew Bobby knew that his true love was flying. He served in the United States Air Force as a pilot prior to having to leave the Air Force to help his father care for his mother, Flora Burns. Here's a photo of Bobby standing by one of the planes he flew while serving in the Air Force when he was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska:
Melven Devoy "Bobby" Burns, in the early 1950s while he served in the United States Air Force.
And here is the notation on the back of the above photo to a friend of Bobby's named Jim (also notated on the picture above to the left-hand side:
Melven Devoy "Bobby" Burns' handwritten note to a friend of his named Jim regarding his Air Force operations.
Longing to continue his adventures as a pilot, Bobby and Yvonne purchased a small seaplane, and they would fly in it all over South Louisiana. In fact, the newlyweds also had a styrofoam boat tucked just under the cabin of the seaplane and, upon landing, they would then hop on the styrofoam boat to fish in areas that others with no seaplane could not possibly access. Years later, Bobby would tell his son, Robert, that he and Yvonne would fly over Yvonne's parents' home in Darlington, Louisiana, and toss a note from the plane that read, "You can pick us up in Grangeville," and Bobby and Yvonne would land the seaplane in a large lake area of a gravel pit in Grangeville, Louisiana. Years later, as Bobby and his son drove by the same gravel pit, Bobby would say, "No way would I ever be able to land that seaplane there today."
As the couple expected their first (and as would turn out, only) child, they decided it may be best to settle down, so they sold the seaplane, and settled for merely living in a small home on Lynn Street in Baton Rouge.
Nevertheless, the small confines of that home took a toll on Bobby, and so he and Yvonne began to read classified ads in the hope that they could find a place more in the country with some acreage that they could afford. One week, Yvonne spotted an ad for a 13-acre property with a three-acre pond and, incredibly, the property was located right in the heart of Baton Rouge! She asked if Bobby wanted to go see it. Yvonne indicated to her son years later that Bobby said, "Sure, but there's no way we're ever going to be able to afford to buy it."
They went and looked at the property, and they both fell instantly in love with it. Nevertheless, Bobby said he didn't see how they could overcome the problem of not being able to afford it. Yvonne then declared, "I'll tell you how! I'll just keep working and, combined, we'll be able to have the income to pay the loan for this place!" Yvonne was right, and the couple soon moved from the tiny confines of the small home on Lynn Street to the 13-acre spread on Maribel Drive in Baton Rouge. That property, especially the three-acre pond on it, allowed Bobby to be adventurous as he always strived to be merely by taking a few steps out to his own back door!
Yvonne and Bobby had one child, Robert Edwin Burns, who was born on September 10, 1963 and is a life-long resident of Baton Rouge and long-time banker and real estate auctioneer, who is now retired (except for a video blog on Louisiana governmental issues). Robert spent the entirety of his life through his mother's passing living with her, and he loves her dearly and looks forward to being reunited with her in Heaven. Here is a photo of Robert and Yvonne taken just before Christmas in 2018, at a time when Yvonne was 87 and Robert 55, yet on more than a few occasions people would tell Robert, "Well, it was so nice of you to bring your wife with you this time!":
Helen Yvonne Burns posing with her son, Robert, in 2018 at the age of 87!
Yvonne also has one nephew, Mr. Thomas Pevey Lee (Alton Lee's son), who resides in Amite, as well as two great-nephews, T. J. Lee (Pevey Lee's son, who is married to Rebecca) and Rueben Tycer Lee (Pevey Lee's son, who is married to Katelyn), as well as three great-nieces, Shirley Elizabeth Lee Blackwell (Thomas Pevey Lee's daughter, who is married to Aaron), Lee Bullard Haslitt (who is married to Chris), and Stephanie Bullard Caillouet (who is married to Matthew).
In addition to having been preceded in death by her parents and brothers as stated above, Yvonne was also preceded in death by her sisters-in-law, Myra Johns Lee (who was married to Charles Lee and who died in February of 2000) and Betty Lee (who was married to Alton and who died on December 25, 2015), and a nephew, Hugh Bullard (Father of Lee and Stephanie), who was Myra Johns Lee's son and who died in 1986 as well as Hugh's wife, Beth Kuhlmann, who also preceded Yvonne in death in January of 1993.
Yvonne's son, Robert, extends his heartfelt appreciation to the nurses, aids and CNAs at Ollie Steele Burden Manor Nursing Home in Baton Rouge as well as to the nurses and CNAs at Bridgeway Hospice in Baton Rouge and also to the nurses and CNAs at Clarity Hospice, where Yvonne spent her final days on this earth immediately prior to being reunited with all of her relatives referenced above in Heaven. All three organizations' care and love displayed for Yvonne were invaluable and tremendously appreciated.
Robert also wishes to express the deepest level of gratitude to Ms. Ella Freeman, who assisted Robert in caring for his mother during an extremely difficult period in May of 2019.
Robert also extends his deepest appreciation to his best friend, Philip Warren Mayeux, who stayed in daily contact with Robert and his mom throughout the last several years of Yvonne's life and who drove hundreds of miles on numerous occasions for the sole purpose of being able to see Robert's mother, and Philip never failed to deliver an added smile to Yvonne's face each time he did so!
Click Here to see a page of more photos and a few videos featuring Yvonne and family.