HARPERS FERRY — Members of the Blue Ridge Mountain community are saddened by the death of fellow resident Ed Burns, who died in a tree-trimming accident on his property on Monday.”
He really cared about other people,” said Ros Rutledge-Burns, his wife. “I think that’s why he was so involved and active in Jefferson County. It was because he honestly cared about other people. He wanted to see the right things done the right way for the right reasons. He would always stand by that.”
Rutledge-Burns said she first met her husband in 1991 on the MARC train when the two were riding to the National Institutes of Health, where they both worked. In February of 1992 they were married at the home they would live in for the next 20 years.
“He was one of my dearest friends,” said Ronda Lehman, a personal friend. “This is a shock to all of us. So many in the community have told me today they feel like they’ve lost their best friend too; that’s a true testament to the man he was. The community probably doesn’t even know everything he did for them.”
Burns, 65, was active politically and with social causes, lending aid to Habitat for Humanity and the Animal Welfare Society when his skills as an electrician were needed.
“He did these things because he knew how to do them, and he cared, and he didn’t expect anything in return,” Rutledge-Burns said.
A passionate motorcycle enthusiast, Burns was instrumental in passing laws requiring covered loads in Charles Town in order to alleviate the danger posed by debris to motorcycle riders.
“He absolutely loved the freedom of the road. He liked that feeling of serenity,” Rutledge-Burns said.
Burns was active in the Democratic Party and previously served as vice president of the Jefferson County Democratic Association.
“I always liked him because you knew exactly where he stood. He always told you exactly how he felt about things,” said Reva Mickey, chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Party.
Over the years, Mickey said, Burns had donated time, money and his skills as an electrician to help remodel the party’s headquarters.
“He was just my go-to person that always helped me with whatever I needed whenever I needed,” Mickey said.
“You don’t find those kind of people in life very often, and when you do you cherish them,” Mickey said. “I’ll really miss him.”
Lehman said she last saw Burns last Saturday during a cleanup effort along the Shenandoah River.
“I could tell where he was all morning because I could hear his belly laugh roll across the water,” she said. “It’s a sound I will never forget, and always miss.”