University of Michigan
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May 25, 2019

Obituary: Eunice Burns

October 28, 2016

Obituary: Eunice Burns

Topic: Obituaries

Eunice Burns — an Ann Arbor civil servant, a long-standing community and environmental leader, a University of Michigan alumna and retired employee — died Oct. 20 at the age of 93. She worked as executive assistant to the dean at the School of Education from 1970-82.

Eunice Burns

Burns, a mother of four, first ran for Ann Arbor City Council in 1961, going door-to-door to speak with members of the community about her policy priorities. Among her priorities was passing a fair housing ordinance for the city. Ann Arbor's Fair Housing ordinance, the first such ordinance in the state of Michigan, passed during Burns’ second term on council.

Burns came to the Institute of Public Policy Studies, predecessor to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, to earn a master’s degree in public administration in 1968. After graduation in 1970, she worked at U-M, where she chaired the university’s Commission for Women and helped to craft recommendations for implementing Title IX in the wake of its passage. In 1981, Burns co-founded Huron River Day, an annual event that emphasizes the importance of water quality.

On Burns’ 90th birthday, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje proclaimed her the “Yes, You!” Torch Bearer for a lifetime of service. Read more about Eunice Burns’ life and career in:

• The Ford School's State & Hill article, “Yes, You! The unlikely and absolutely inspiring career of Eunice Burns,”

• Burns’ Ann Arbor News obituary:

At the Ford School, Burns’ legacy will continue far into the future through the Eunice Burns Fund for Water Policy Education, which supports educational and research activities related to water and environmental policy and sustainability. For more information, go to!/give/basket/fund/796684/tributee/Eunice%20Burns/type/honor.

The fund was established by Burns’ children on her 90th birthday to honor their mother’s lifelong commitment to family, community, and the environment.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate gifts to Eunice Burns Fund for Water Policy Education and to the Huron River Watershed Council.

— Submitted by Erin Spanier, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy