Michael Burns (1946 - 2015)

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Michael John Burns
December 16, 1946 – July 16, 2015

Michael John Burns passed away peacefully on July 16, 2015, at his home in Juneau, Alaska, surrounded by family. He was born on December 16, 1946, in Galesburg, Illinois to John H. and Louise Little Burns. Although he grew up in Galesburg, he spent his high school years at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, graduating in 1965.

Mike received a BA degree in political science from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, and obtained his law degree from the University of Denver. Mike was admitted to the practice of law in Colorado, Missouri, and Illinois.

In 1969, Mike met Rebecca Harman in Denver on a blind date. Because he picked her up in his dark green Mustang convertible, she agreed to a second date. Mike was a Republican candidate for Prosecuting Attorney of Jackson County, Missouri in 1972, and he and Rebecca were married during the campaign in Watertown, South Dakota, her hometown. After winning the primary, he lost the general election 112,000 to 98,000.

Mike worked for First Midwest Bancorp of Illinois, 1973 - 1985, and became Senior Vice President of Corporate Banking. In 1984, he received a telephone call from Alaska Pacific Bank, which offered him a job in Anchorage. In January 1985, he and Rebecca arrived in Anchorage for his interview. Flying north, they were struck by the beauty of Alaska. After three days, they drove down Turnagain Arm. It was there that they looked at one another and agreed, "Haven't we always dreamed of raising our children in this kind of place?" He accepted the job offer. Alaska Pacific Bank was soon acquired by Key Bank, and Mike served as the bank's President for 20 years.

In 2004, Mike was named Executive Director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, which oversees the Permanent Fund's management and investments. He and Rebecca moved to Juneau, the Corporation's headquarters. Although economic climates rose and fell during his tenure, the Fund's value had reached $54 billion at the time of his death and ranks in the top 50 of world sovereign wealth funds.

Active in Alaska and Anchorage civic and other non-profit affairs, Mike served several terms as chair of the University of Alaska Board of Regents and as a Trustee on the University of Alaska Foundation Board. Other board service included the Alaska Community Foundation, the Nature Conservancy of Alaska, the Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board, the Alaska Airlines Community Advisory Board, and the United Way Trustee Council. He was twice chair of the Anchorage United Way Campaign.
Mike was elected to seven terms as chair of the Anchorage Telephone Utility and was a former commissioner of the Public Broadcasting Commission. He served on many other boards and committees, including the Alaska Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association, the Fiscal Policy Council of Alaska, the Alaska Children's Trust, Boys & Girls Clubs of Anchorage, The Imaginarium, and the Anchorage Concert Association. He was also a member of the Young Presidents Alumni Organization.
Mike's enthusiasm for Alaska made him an avid fisherman, hunter, and backpacker. He pointed out every eagle he ever saw to his children, and the family spent weekends at their cabin in Girdwood skiing and hiking. He greatly enjoyed spending time with friends at the duck shack. Golfing was his favorite sport, and he played wherever he could.

Spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren was always Mike's primary focus, pride, and joy.

Mike was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife Rebecca and four children: Patrick and his wife Molly and their son Michael MacDougall Burns of Whitefish, MT; Michael and Racheal Burns and their sons Bryce and Blake of Tiburon, CA; McCoy and Erin Burns and their daughter Audrey of Bozeman, MT; and daughter Bridget and her husband Shane Banhart of San Francisco. Mike is also survived by his sister Susan Hellberg, brother Patrick Burns and his wife Terri, his mother-in-law Blanche Harman, and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial celebration will be planned at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois 61401, or to a .
Published in The Juneau Empire from July 31 to Aug. 30, 2015