Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burns Was a Pillar and Driving Force in Community

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burns Was a Pillar and Driving Force in Community

Article excerpt


FERNANDINA BEACH - In the wake of Paul Burns' death this week, the parish hall at St. Peter's Episcopal Church will now be known as Burns Hall, in honor of Burns and his late wife, Annie.

The announcement came at Thursday's funeral for Burns, a community pillar and a man who freely gave of himself to help others.

Burns, 86, died at his home Monday.

Since his arrival in 1946, Burns was instrumental in building, strengthening and promoting Fernandina Beach as it grew.

"When you look at the nine or 10 individuals who have really contributed the greatest amount to this city, he's one of them," City Commissioner Ron Sapp said Thursday. "In virtually every aspect of what it takes to be a community leader, Paul Burns excelled."

Burns was a city commissioner in the 1950s when Fernandina built the Atlantic Avenue and now Martin Luther King Jr. recreation centers, and its golf course.

In 1956, he was one of the 11 charter members of the now Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce.

Burns also was a founding member of "How Can We Help?" which became the Nassau County Council on Aging. He delivered meals through the Meals on Wheels program for 20 years.

He is also remembered for his work with Farmers Home in the 1940s and 1950s to build many houses for economically disadvantaged residents.

Charles Burns said his father touched many lives.

"He inspired people to help others," he said Wednesday.

Burns founded Paul Burns Insurance and Real Estate in 1946 and was one of the founders of the Amelia Island/Nassau County Board of Realtors. In 1989, he was one of the founders of First Coast Community Bank.

He was a member of the Jaycees, Kiwanis, Amelia Lodge No. 47 and the Fernandina Beach Shrine Club. He supported Micah's Place, the Barnabas Center, the McArthur Family YMCA and the Fernandina Beach High School Foundation.

He founded the Fernandina Beach chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous and convinced county officials to donate unused land for Habitat for Humanity. He was a faithful member and Vestry person of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. …

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