NATCHITOCHES – Billy John Burns continues to support his alma mater, Northwestern State University, most recently through a planned gift that will be added to the scholarship he created for graduates of Anacoco High School. His contribution continues to support two schools that he loves: Anacoco High School and Northwestern State.
“Mr. Burns donated an insurance policy that will be put into his scholarship at the time of his death,” said NSU Development Officer Jill Bankston, CFRE.
Burns established the Billy John and Judith Burns Scholarship in memory of his late wife in 2011 and has contributed to it over the years. It is annually awarded to an Anacoco High School graduate who plans to attend NSU. During the 2013 50-plus reunion, he 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 years to come.
“The money I place in the scholarship is an investment in human beings and will return positive results forever,” he said. “I want to encourage each of my fellow NSU graduates to consider establishing a scholarship fund.”
“Mr. Burns continues to be a model of service and generosity to NSU and to students from Vernon Parish,” Bankston said.
Burns, who lives in Bossier City, earned a B.A. in education at NSU in 1954, M.A. in 1958 and plus 30 in 1966. Born and reared in Anacoco, he taught at Anacoco High School for 31 years working 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.
Until recent years, Burns often visited NSU and enjoyed strolling around campus snapping pictures. The last time he was able to visit Natchitoches was last year when he celebrated his 86th birthday by contributing $5,000 to his scholarship. His daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Tommy Robinson, joined him for the presentation.
Burns said the ideal candidate for the NSU scholarship would be someone with a financial need and a strong interest in attending Northwestern and a person with demonstrated academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities and good character.
“Ninety-five percent of my life is behind me and in my last few years I am interested in helping others because when I was at Northwestern so many people helped me,” Burns said.