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Sun, Oct. 20

Obituary: Jim Burns

Jim Burns

Jim Burns

Jim Burns, beloved teacher and musician, passed peacefully June 25, 2018. He was born Nov. 20, 1928, in Yuma, Arizona, and was raised there. He attended Northern Arizona University, where he met the love of his life, Beverly Bellwood.

While Jim was teaching in Springerville, Arizona, he was drafted right out of the classroom into the Korean War, where he was a heavy artillery instructor. Jim and Beverly were married in Flagstaff, Arizona, July 7, 1952, while he was still in the Army. He began teaching in Prescott in 1953, first in the public schools, and then as the high school choral director for 16 years. When Yavapai College opened, he was part of the founding faculty, starting the music program.

He retired in 1983, and was responsible for countless programs and musicals through the years at both the high school and college. Jim was a man of many hats and wore them all well.

He was an accomplished vocalist and musician, playing piano, baritone horn, concertina and bagpipes. He tuned and repaired pianos for many years all over the state. He could drive any vehicle, including the bus for the Yavapai choirs and the sports teams. He worked on cars, motorcycles, and had several hit-and-miss engines that he kept in working order. He kept and maintained his mother’s 1956 Nash Rambler, driving it on Route 66 fun runs, as well as showing it in antique car shows around the state. He was an avid camper, hiked the Grand Canyon many times, and bicycled all over Northern Arizona. He installed a full ice cream fountain on his back porch, and he and Beverly entertained neighbors, friends, P.E.O. and piano guild members, as well as church friends.

A devoted family man, he and Beverly raised two daughters and instilled in them a lifelong love of music. He delighted in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as extended family in Kingman.

Jim is survived by his daughters, Jane (Richard) French and Christine Maxwell; grandchildren, Bryan (Kim) Smith and Laurel Maxwell; and two great-grandchildren, Max and Sophia. Beverly preceded him in death on June 21, 2017.

Please join us for a Celebration of Life at the Mile High Middle School Hendrix Auditorium on Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Jim Burns Scholarship Fund at Yavapai College. Gifts can be sent to Yavapai College Foundation at 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott, AZ 86301; please note Jim Burns in the memo, or you can make a gift online at

Arrangements entrusted to Hampton Funeral Home.

Information provided by survivors.

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