My personal tribute to Mr. Lawrence Vincent Burns, who passed recently at 101.

I hope you all don't mind that I use our website as a personal forum, but I just felt I had to add my personal tribute to Michael Burn's Dad, Mr. Lawrence Vincent Burns.

 I knew Mr. Burns since I was about 12 years old, I first met him during my very, very brief  Boy Scout career. The Boy Scouts met at James Caldwell School and Mr. Burns and Mike (who I knew from Florence M. Gaudineer) were there, I was very shy and I showed it, but Mr. Burns who was sitting in the auditorium seats watching Mike and the other scouts came over to me and gave me some encouragement to join in. That did not work out very well, but it would not be the last time Mr. Burns would encourage me to do something.

After graduating high school  and not really being college material, I had planned to join the Air Force, which did not work out after they found out I had asthma. So I took the entrance exam for the Postal Service and got a job in the Springfield Post Office.

This is where I met up with Mr. Burns again, he had been working there for a number of years, and he also had his own business, so he kept very busy. When I arrived for my first day of work, they introduced me around. When I was introduced to Mr. Burns, he said "I know you"! I just stood there and then the name clicked and I knew he was Mike's father. How he remembered me 6 years after our first meeting I'll never know, but he did.

I guess I was more or less resigned to the fact that my career would be in the Post Office, my father thought it was a good job with a good pension and I had made many friends and I worked with classmates Henry Kienzle and Steve Jupa.

But, I just never felt satisfied working there, so as the years went on Mr. Burns kept encouraging me to get out of the post office, get more education. "You're too smart to be in this place, this is for people who have nowhere else to go". We would have many long conversations over the years, about Mike's progress in education, jobs, etc. and about life.

The post office in the 1970's was a rough place to work, most of the employees were WWII vets and they took no crap. I learned many words I never heard before (no, not even in high school!).

There were no rules for the workplace as they have now, and many employees would have been fired today. There were a few black employees, but the "N" word was used frequently. I asked Mr. Burns if this and other things about racism bothered him. He said of course it does but the key is to not show it and laugh at them.

"I can't let hate consume me like some people, the racists are the ignorant people and their hate will eat them up".

After about ten years and after getting married to my beautiful wife of 43 years Linda (who I met through the Post Office as I worked with my future father-in-law), and having started and stopped some courses in Union County College, I heard of a technical school called the The Chubb Institute which had a 2 year course in computer mainframe programming. I took the entrance exam and did not get in but Mr. Burns would not let me off that easy, he said that don't let that stop you there must be other places to get the education. I found a course at New York University where I got accepted and attended for 2 years at night, which was not easy as I had to get up for work at 3:30 AM after getting home from the city at around 11 pm.

But, after completing the course  I found they had very little placement and all the resumes I sent out did not get much action, again after speaking with Mr. Burns, he encouraged me again not to give up, to keep trying. The Chubb Institute had a 97% placement record, so I took the entrance test again and I got accepted this time and my career in Information Technology started.

It was very hard to leave the post office after 16 years, 8 months  and 16 days (but who's counting?).  I did and after 35 years as a software engineer I retired in 2021. I look back at all the different programming languages, software,databases, designing systems, etc. and I still can’t believe all I accomplished.   

I am convinced that without the constant encouragement of Mr. Burns, I would have retired from the Post Office.

Thank you Mr. Burns and may God bless you and may you rest in peace with your beautiful wife Carmen.

Rich O'Brien