, Salem, MA

October 12, 2012

William Russell Burns Jr., 86

SALEM — Mr. William Russell “Bill” Burns Jr., 86, husband of Elizabeth ‘Betsy” (Metcalfe) Burns, a well-known and respected lifelong resident of The City of Salem, died Friday, October 5th, 2012, surrounded by his family, at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers.

Born in Salem, he was the son of the late William Russell Sr. and Lucretia (Perkins) Burns. Bill was raised on the Salem Common, attending the Bentley and Phillips Schools and graduating from Salem High School in 1943. He continued his education at the University of New Hampshire and graduated from Babson College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. While attending Babson, he was the Editor of the school’s weekly newspaper, "The Free Press".

An honorably discharged veteran, Bill served his country as a member of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II.

Bill’s outstanding nature and personality helped him throughout his life especially professionally in the Public Relations field. Bill had been employed for over forty years in the Boston Advertising and Public Relations Industry. He ended his career as the Manager of Public Relations for S.D. Warren Company. His hard work and dedication to his profession was greatly appreciated by his clients, colleagues and competitors alike.

Bill lived his life to the fullest in all capacities. Through his political aspirations and career, Bill was able to better the City of Salem for the residents whom he represented. He was elected and served as Councilor at Large for the City of Salem and elected to the Salem School Committee, serving for many years as vice chairman. He was the Director of the Salem Fraternity (Salem Boys & Girls Club), he was the President and Director of Historic Salem Inc., he was the Director for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, he was the Director of the Spar and Spindle, Girl Scout Council and Chairman of the Cancer Crusades. He was a well-known local television personality for many years having appeared on "Inside Salem". Bill was always one to share with passion his ideals, agreements and disagreements on the future and state of The City of Salem. Through wit, cunning and charm; Bill was always a viable debater of current topics addressing the city’s past, present and future. With an ever present aura, personality and laugh, Bill’s contributions to the City of Salem will always be remembered graciously by all.

Bill was an avid outdoorsman and athlete, having completed the Boston Marathon on two occasions. He was an avid skier, mountain climber, tennis player, hiker, drummer, conservationist and preservationist. He was known as a ferocious street hockey player with the families and kids on Federal Street and Chestnut Street and enjoyed a game of football every thanksgiving day. He was a member of the Mt. Washington Observatory and was a volunteer worker on the top of Mt. Washington for three years.

Bill is survived by his beloved wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” (Metcalfe) Burns, his five children, Robin Spilman and her husband Jeffrey of Sandwich, Torrey Ober and her husband Harold of Salisbury, N.H., Lucretia McCarthy and her husband Bennett of Natick, William Russell Burns III of Salem and Sarah Brogna and her husband Matthew of Swampscott, nine grandchildren, his one great grandchild, his brother, Henry J. Burns and his wife Andrea of Norway, Maine, his sister-in-law Abby Burns of Salem and many nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Jeremiah Burns.

ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are invited to his Memorial Service which will be held in the First Church of Salem, Unitarian, 316 Essex, St., Salem, Friday, October 19th, 2012, at 2 P.M. Assisting the family with the arrangements is The O’Donnell Funeral Home 46 Washington Square (at Salem Common), Salem. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Bill’s memory to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, 13 Hawthorne Blvd., Salem, MA 01970. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit