Donald Lee “Don” Burns 

Donald Lee Burns, 82, passed away on Feb. 16. Born March 9, 1938, in Portsmouth, Ohio, he was the son of the late Carl Burton Burns and Martha Ellen (Parker) Burns.

He was also predeceased by his sister, Judy (Burns) Murphy; his brother, Wilbur Burns; his sisters-in-law, Martha Burns and Jackie (Strayer) Goodman; his brother-in-law, Gary Goodman; grandson, Paul Burns; and great-grandson, Clinton Sullivan. 

Don graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1956, and the next year he married his high school sweetheart, who was the love of his life, Patricia Deloras (Strayer) Burns.  Don and Pat were together for 65 years, married for 63 years, and were lifelong partners as well as best friends. They loved to travel, and every vacation they took was an epic road trip. 

Don shared his wanderlust and love of travel with his children and grandchildren, and even enjoyed an international adventure by traveling to Cuba in 2019 with some of his children. He enjoyed the engineering that went into building bridges and loved to travel to see big bridges in person, a passion he enjoyed sharing with his daughter, Cindy.

Don had many talents, and was an inventor, machinist and volunteer firefighter.  Early in his career as a machinist, Don worked for North American Aviation, building bombers and experimental aircraft. He transferred to California, where he worked on the Apollo program, building second stage engines on the Saturn V rockets. While in California he worked on various defense programs as a machinist. In addition to his volunteer fire service at Station 34 in Thousand Oaks, Don invented the AccuStrip, a coaxial cable stripping machine, in his free time. 

A company in Pennsylvania purchased the AccuStrip, and relocated the family East, bringing Don onboard to continue development in this area. 

Upon his first retirement, Don and Patricia, moved to Conway, where he worked part time at various machine shops, retiring again on his 80th birthday from STI, Inc.  Don loved working, and he loved mentoring and sharing his years of experience and expertise with his coworkers. 

In retirement, Don enjoyed gardening, taking meticulous care of his yard, puttering around in his man-cave, feeding and watching “his” hummingbirds, and chatting with and helping his neighbors with various projects and advice. 

There was nothing he could not figure out how to fix, and enjoyed teaching himself how things worked, and helping others do the same.

Don is survived by his wife, Patricia Deloras (Strayer) Burns; his son, Larry Burns (Kathy) of Hatfield, Pa.; his daughters, Cindy Arnholt of Telford, Pa., Linda Peterson of Schwenksville, Pa., and Donna Light (Joseph) of Lansdale, Pa.; his son, Richard Burns (Debbie) of Hatfield, Pa.; 14 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren, his sisters, Jackie Born, Linda Miller (Clyde) and Mary Neal of Ohio; brothers, Harold (Gail) and Bill (Charlene) of Ohio; sister-in-law, Nellie Burns of Ohio; brothers-in-law, Fred Strayer (Bonnie) of Tennessee and Gary Strayer (Teresa) of Conway.

Out of respect for the many people who would like to attend a memorial service, the family will announce a celebration of life to be held at a more appropriate date. In the meantime, the family invites you to share your lovely memories and stories of Don at, so that they can all remember him together safely.

Donations in memory of Don can be made to, to help the plight of endangered species of hummingbirds.

Please sign a guestbook at

Watson Funeral Services and Crematory, 2300 U.S. 378, Conway is serving the family. 


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