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Richard Varian Burnes

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Richard Varian Burnes Obituary
Richard Varian Burnes

Memorial services for Richard Varian Burnes will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, August 30, 2013 at The Pentecostals of Alexandria (2817 Rapides Avenue, Alexandria, LA). The Memorial Service will begin at 11:00 that morning, officiated by Pastors Anthony Mangun and Terry Shock, with additional participation by Mike Small (representing the legal community), and Richard's sister, Grey Talley. Arrangements are being handled by White Oaks Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 30th.

Richard Varian Burnes was born August 13, 1936, in Lightfoot, Virginia, the third of thirteen children born to James Paul and Doris Zelda (Cole) Burnes.

He passed from this life in Alexandria, Louisiana on August 26, 2013, just 13 days past his 77th birthday.

Richard graduated from Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. He attended Southern University for pre-law. He received his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and his Master of Criminal Law degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. He was admitted to the Louisiana Bar Association in 1962.

Richard clerked in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Shreveport. He served as an Assistant District Attorney under District Attorney Jim Garrison in New Orleans in the early to mid-1960s. In that office, Richard was part of the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Specifically, Richard prosecuted and obtained the only conviction in connection with that investigation.

Camille Gravel sat in the courtroom and watched as Richard prosecuted a case, and promptly invited him to join his practice. Richard joined Camille Gravel and Chris Roy, Sr., and formed Gravel, Roy, and Burnes - a firm that served this community for many years. In his first case in private practice, he took the case all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court and won. Over the last two decades, he was joined in practice by his son, Dmitrc Burnes, and his sister, Grey Talley, forming the firm of Burnes, Burnes, and Talley, which continued to serve the area with excellence.

Richard served on a committee to revise criminal procedure laws for the State of Louisiana. He was a frequent speaker at various CLE programs across the state. He was selected earlier this summer to be honored as recipient of the Causidicus Award for lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to the practice of law and service to the community. The award is to be presented at the Rapides Parish Courthouse on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

Richard Burnes was a man many called "the lawyer's lawyer." He had a keen and astute understanding of the law and its intent. He was frequently consulted by fellow lawyers and judges alike. He mentored many young lawyers through the years, including three who have gone on to Federal judgeships. He was also the people's lawyer. He represented clients from all walks of life, in all circumstances and all levels of law, from city court to the Supreme Court.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents, and four siblings: Pat Burnes, Bobby Burnes, Sharon (Burnes) Buckholder, and Judi (Burnes) Sparkman.

He is survived by his loving wife, Melanie Fletcher Burnes of Alexandria; two sons, Richard Burnes, Jr. (wife, Donna), of Dallas, Dmitrc Burnes of Pineville, step-son, Wes Kendrick of Baton Rouge, and step-daughter, Stephanie Thompson (husband, Michael) of Pineville. His passing is also mourned by two brothers, Dr. James Edmond Burnes and Dan Burnes, and six sisters, Meriola Gotthardt, Nella White, Nancy Myers, Ida Turnstall, Grey Talley, and Lucky Stradley. To always remember and always miss their beloved grandfather and uncle, Richard leaves behind eleven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and thirty seven nieces and nephews, along with a host of other family and friends. Colleagues will also remember him with fondness and share in the loss of this great man.

Pallbearers will be Dr. James Edmond Burnes, Dmitrc Burnes, Rick Burnes, Eric James Talley, Clif Burnes, Frank Peterlin, Donald Long, and Judge Tom Yeager.

Visitation will be today, Friday, August 30, 2013, from 9 a.m., until time of services (at 11 a.m.) in the Pentecostals of Alexandria Church Sanctuary.

In lieu of flowers, donations may by made to: The Pentecostals of Alexandria Building Fund, P.O. Box 8838, Alexandria, LA. 71306 or online at


Published in The Town Talk on Aug. 30, 2013
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