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Charles Kennedy Burns

January 10, 1923 ~ September 29, 2018 (age 95)
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It is with great sadness that the family of Charles K. Burns of Newark, DE announce his passing on Saturday, September 29, 2018, at age 95. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware to his parents James J. Burns Sr. and Eva Lynn Burns (Davis). He was predeceased by the love of his life, Jacqueline Waters Burns (Jackie) in 2002, his brother, James J. Burns Jr. and his beloved in-laws, Thomas J. and Nora H. Waters.

Charles’s beautiful life will be forever cherished by his loving children, Nora Lynn Kessler and her husband, Edward W. Kessler and Charles Waters Burns; grandchildren, Lauren Kessler DeNight and husband, Anthony Joseph DeNight Sr., David Alexander Kessler and wife, Casey Wyatt Kessler, and Carly Helene Burns and her mother, Diana Burns; brother Earl W. Burns. He is also survived by his great-grandchildren, Anthony Joseph DeNight Jr. and Carter William DeNight; his cherished companion, Dorothy S. Connors; and a host of adored nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Charles grew up in Wilmington, graduating from Wilmington High School in 1942. Shortly after graduation, Charles answered the call to serve in World War II. He trained to be a combat medic and was deployed to the China Burma India (CBI) Theater, serving with the 699th Petroleum Engineers Distribution Company and later promoted to corporal. The ‘CBI’ Theater included the famous 5,307th Composite Unit, popularly known as Merrill’s Marauders.  After returning from the service, he graduated in 1949 from the John Hussian School of Art in Philadelphia, which launched his art career with the E.I DuPont & de Nemours Company for over 30 years.

After retirement, he started his own freelance art business, ‘Fast Draw Studios.’ Over his lifetime, Charley had a legendary art career, including sport illustration and cartooning for the Wilmington News Journal, and hundreds of commissioned illustrations, cartoons, and caricatures for the public, as well as family and friends. One of his proudest works was a cartoon illustration for Frank Sinatra, as he was an avid Sinatra fan, and would often be heard crooning his songs.

Charley was not only a distinguished athlete but loved sports, especially his University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens Football team. Charley Burn’s sports career dates back to when he was a nine-year-old on the Lore School tumbling team where he became captain and all-around points winner. He then turned to swimming and diving, successfully competing for nearly a half-century, winning gold in the U.S Senior Diving Championship at age 58.  Even while in the service, Charley not only won a swimming medal in the China Burma India Theatre competition but also boxed going 17-1.  After establishing work as an artist, he gave a few cartoons to the Wilmington News-Journal’s sports editor and great friend, the legendary Al Cartwright. This opened a new chapter for Charley - featured sports illustrator. Many of his works for the Journal are proudly displayed at the Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame (DSMHOF). Charles was instrumental in launching the Wilmington Swim Club with its swimmers and divers donating fees for youth scholarships. His career also included coaching gymnastics for years at the Wilmington Central YMCA.  He was also one of the founders of the Wilmington Touch Football League in the '60s. Charles is a recipient of the Delaware Sports Writers & Broadcasters Herm Reitzes Award for his many contributions to sports in Delaware. In 1997, he was inducted into the Wilmington High School “Wall of Fame” and in 2013 was inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame.  His resume also includes serving as vice-president of the DSMHOF along with many hours of volunteer service to the organization (

Charles was a loving, doting & supportive husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and true friend.  He was a joyful, comical, passionate man, who will always be remembered as the life of the party.  He lived life to the fullest and cherished his deep relationships with family and friends.  Charley will be fondly remembered by his adored University of Delaware football tailgating gang, having not only enjoyed the game itself but the comradery that ensued for over 50 years.  We are forever blessed to have had his joyous light in our lives.

Visitation will be held for friends and family at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 301 N. Bancroft Pkwy, Wilmington, Delaware on Monday, October 8, 2018 from 9:30 to 11:00AM, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00AM.  Interment with Military Honors will follow at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Charley’s name to the Wounded Warriors Project at or by mail at P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517.




Donations may be made to:

Wounded Warrior Project
PO Box 758517, Topeka KS 66675

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