Frances T. Burns

Monday, August 21, 2017 10:56 am

Frances T. Burns was born Edna Frances Taylor Nov. 24, 1921, in Scranton, and died Aug. 15, 2017, at her home in Decorah.

Fran was one of nine children born to Dillard Thomas Taylor and Bessie (Murphy) Taylor. She was a country schoolgirl and a town-boarding student in Jefferson, graduating from Jefferson High School in 1940.

After graduation, Fran attended Simpson College where she met her husband, Wayne Wilson Burns. They were married Aug. 17, 1942. A significant event of their life together occurred when she was able to accompany him in his World War II service to the Panama Canal, becoming the first civilian spouse to live on the base.

After the war, Fran and Wayne moved to Mediapolis, where she took her first position as a grade-school teacher. It was there that all three of the Burns children – Jim, Jan and Becky – were born. Fran used her expertise as a teacher to enhance her enthusiasm as a mother. She was a dedicated scout leader, a loyal Sunday school teacher and an avid scheduler, making sure the kids got to all their ball games, piano lessons, and lawn mowing jobs. A meaningful part of her parenting was dedicated to her daughter Becky, who had Down syndrome. Fran was steadfast in providing Becky with the education and care she deserved.
In 1963, the Burns family moved to Decorah, when Wayne became the superintendent of the Decorah Schools. While living in Decorah, Fran taught in the South Winneshiek School District, was a member of the United Methodist Church and became active in PEO and DAR.

After Wayne retired in 1983, they enjoyed splitting their time between Decorah and Sun City, Ariz., appreciating a life of golf, cards and friends year-round. As with her own children, Fran was a devoted grandmother, faithfully attending her grandchildren’s ball games, dance recitals and plays. Her grandchildren enjoyed the love, laughs and cozy meals she provided whenever needed.

Fran was an avid fan of Decorah High School baseball. Up until the summer of 2016, she could be found at most home games, dependably sitting in a lawn chair along the third base line as she cheered on the Vikings. In 2013, the Decorah Vikings baseball team gave Fran a “Superfan Award” for her 50 years of dedicated fandom.

She is survived by her son, James (Kari) Burns of Decorah; her daughter, Jan Norman of Tujunga, Calif.; three grandchildren: Paige Norman (Kevin) Napier of Altadena, Calif., Morgan Leigh Burns of Milwaukee, Wis. and Thomas Taylor “Tad” (Leslie Lofgren) Burns of Washington, D.C.; one great-granddaughter, Grey Sierra Napier; one sister, Betty (Dick) Nysteun; a sister-in-law Ilo (Burns) Eveland, and one special and devoted niece, Marjorie (Ken) Keller.

Fran was preceded in death by her husband, Wayne, in 2000; her parents; her daughter, Rebecca Kay in 2016; and her siblings Johnny, Inez, Neva, Paul, George, Vance and Beulah.

A family memorial service for her is pending.

Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at

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