Gerald Edward Burns (80) of Leesville, LA, left this world on Saturday, May 23, 2020 to join his wife Lorene in eternal communion with Jesus before God in heaven. Gerald was an active member of his church, a successful business owner, and a public servant to the Leesville, Ft. Polk and Vernon Parish community. He loved his country, hometown, fellow citizens, and brothers and sisters in Christ. He strived to make his corner of the earth a better place for all.
For the last 2 ½ years, Gerald struggled with Parkinson's Disease. Despite the physical limitations and declining physical and mental health that resulted from his ravenous ailment, he continued to love, laugh and trust in the Lord's goodness and grace. Gerald was a man of deep faith and conviction, and he stood up for what he believed was just. Many of his letters and missives were published in the local papers, encouraging others to also "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God."
Gerald was born in a little log cabin a few miles outside of Simpson, Louisiana in late December of 1939 to Dawson and Hazel (Davis) Burns. He was the second of three rambunctious and fun-loving sons. They lived a simple and happy life, and his parents instilled in him the importance of family, the value of honesty, and the rewards of hard work. As a teenager Gerald attended the Church of God in Simpson where he learned to love the Lord and His Word, ultimately accepting Jesus' personal call to faith. Gerald always believed that this was the most important and significant decision of his life, and his relationship with the Lord informed and influenced every facet of his life.
After graduating from Simpson High School in 1958, Gerald moved to Houston, TX to attend Gulf Coast Bible College. After two semesters in Houston, he returned to Leesville, where he commuted to both McNeese State University and LSU in Alexandria. He valued the importance of education, and this conviction led him to seek public office. He was elected to the Vernon Parish School Board in 1979, where he faithfully served for 19 years. Gerald and his family were fixtures in the stands on Friday nights, cheering on the Wampus Cats and supporting the Leesville High Band. He spent countless hours listening to concerned parents, teachers and administrators, while also praying for wisdom and seeking counsel from constituents in the community. Gerald always fondly remembered his time with the school board, and he cherished the camaraderie of those with whom he served.
In the fall of 1965, Gerald met Lorene Mayhew, who was visiting a college friend's family for the weekend. Lorene was attending Gulf Coast Bible College in Houston, and Lorene's friend just happened to be the daughter of Gerald's pastor. During her weekend visit, Lorene developed a serious kidney infection that stranded her in Byrd Hospital for a week. With the encouragement of his pastor, Gerald would stop by the hospital and check on her every evening. After just one short week, they fell in love; and following an equally speedy courtship of 3 months, they married on November 27, 1965. They raised 3 children together, building a family focused on loving and serving God and others. Gerald and Lorene welcomed all who came into their home and lives and were known for their hospitality and generosity.
Gerald, along with mother Hazel, founded Deluxe Cleaners in May of 1962. He continued to own and manage the business with his wife Lorene until their retirement in 2007. By providing superior quality and friendly service, they built a successful business and expanded it with AAA Alterations and Dry Cleaning. Alongside his dry cleaning business, Gerald also sold, built, advocated for and was a hobbyist of Citizen Band (C.B.) Radio. He earned the reputation for stocking all things CB-related, and he loved building relationships with many who stopped by to meet the man known on the airwaves as Thunderbumper.
Gerald and Lorene were active members at East Leesville Baptist Church for many years. They loved the fellowship and kinship of his church family and built life-long and eternal friendships there. Even when they could no longer attend services because of declining health, they stayed connected to their Sunday School class and continued to love and support their pastor and staff.
Gerald is preceded in death by his wife, Lorene Burns, and his parents, Dawson and Hazel Burns of Leesville, LA.
Gerald is survived by his daughter Tammy Mitcham and husband Jeff of Houston, TX; daughter Paula Underwood and husband Ande of Birmingham, AL; and son Dan (Daniel) Burns and wife Heather
of Salt Lake City, UT; brother Donald Burns and wife Oii of Baker, LA; and brother Gary Burns of Leesville, LA. He will be greatly missed by all of his grandchildren, including Raegan, Connor, and Avery Mitcham of Houston, TX; Ashley Campbell, husband Josh, and his great granddaughter Mila Kate of Alabaster, AL; Anderson Underwood and wife Nila of Snellville, GA; Chris Underwood of Jacksonville, AL; Noah and Lily Underwood of Birmingham, AL; and Sophia and Madeleine Burns of Salt Lake City, UT.
Visitation will be held at Jeane Funeral Service on Friday, June 12th from 6:00 - 8:00p.m.
Funeral service will be Saturday, June 13th at 10:00 am at Welcome Cemetery in Simpson, LA.
Friends are encouraged to leave comments and pictures for the family at Jeane's Funeral Service website (https://www.jeanesfs.com