NATCHITOCHES – Billy John Burns, who has spent most of his life mentoring students, made a significant contribution to a scholarship fund already established in his name at Northwestern State University to benefit students from another school he loves, Anacoco High School. Burns contributed $5,000 to the Billy John and Judith Burns Scholarship last week, just days after his 86th birthday. His daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Tommy Robinson, joined him for the presentation.
Burns said he owes a debt to both AHS and NSU that he cannot pay, that he loves both schools and wants to be a part of their success for yeas to come. Previously the scholarship was funded each semester, but now he is providing funding to allow the recipient to concentrate on coursework. The scholarship, which was established shortly after the death of Burns’ wife, Judith Ellen Burns, on Oct. 12, 2011, is annually presented to a graduate of Anacoco High School pursing a degree at NSU.
Born and reared in Anacoco, Burns was a student at Anacoco High School for 12 years and taught there for 31 consecutive years. He earned a B.A. in education at NSU in 1954, M.A. in 1958 and plus 30 in 1966. At AHS, he worked at various times as a social studies teacher, librarian, assistant principal, principal, girls basketball coach and co-sponsor of the yearbook. He retired for one year and moved to Shreveport, where he taught for 14 years at Calvary Baptist Academy and served as principal from 1990-2000. Events from his life and career are detailed in an autobiography, “One Last Stroll Down Memory Lane,” completed in 2007.
Burns overcame tremendous physical challenges as a child and attended Northwestern on a rehabilitation scholarship and after a 45-year career as an educator felt a desire to continue to support students who demonstrate academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities and good character.
“It has been an honor to work with Mr. Burns and his family these last several years as he continues to take an interest in and support high school and college students, especially those from his hometown,” said NSU Development Officer Jill Bankston, CFRE. “He is a wonderful role model of service to others. His generosity has helped several Vernon Parish students achieve their academic goals.”