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BURNS, Robert (Rob) Alexander

April 18, 1967 – October 7, 2014

Our hearts ache at the passing of our beloved Rob Burns. Witty, generous and always a gentleman, Rob charmed everyone who met him. His infectious personality and natural sense of humour allowed him to connect people so that they felt included and at ease. Rob leaves a huge hole on the lives of all who loved him, including his loving wife Angela (Howatt) and step–daughters Eleanor and Lydia Jones; adoring parents John and Pat Burns; siblings Nancy Grisdale (John), Stephanie Balogh (Steve) and Tom Burns; in-laws Miles and Rosemary Atkinson, Alastair Howatt, Gillian and Simon Crebbin, Sonja and Brad Saville, Tricia Howatt and Pat Reilly; and nieces and nephews Emily, Lauren, Thea, Joe, Will, Emily, Owen, Ben, Malcolm, and Adam. Rob leaves behind extended family and friends from around the world with whom he was brilliant at keeping in touch. Born in Calgary and raised in Toronto and Connecticut, Rob went to high school at Strathcona Tweedsmuir, completed a B.A. at Carlton and an M.B.A. at the University of Edinburgh. As with his name’s sake, Rob was known to have fun in a kilt and was always a welcome addition to every party. But by far Rob’s greatest pride came from his family, whom he cherished. He left this party far too early. Special thanks to the Palliative Home care team, including Dr. Falk and nurse Carol Lejong.

Funeral Services will be held at Christ Church Elbow Park (3602 – 8th Street S.W.) on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Mourners are asked to bring their stories and photos to be shared in a memory book. Condolences may be forwarded through If friends so desire donations can be made directly to the Alberta Cancer Foundation

In living memory of Rob Burns, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Heather Seagrave :

    Angela and beautiful girls Eleanor and Lydia;

    My heart breaks for the loss of Rob. What a bright, shiny light in the lives of all he knew. I only had the pleasure of meeting him a few times but he was always quick with a joke and could bring a smile to anyone’s face. Angela, his light will live on through your infectious, chiming laughter and warm loving spirit. Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss.

    All my love,
    Heather Seagrave

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  2. Richard & Sylvia Boyd :

    We are deeply sorry to hear about the loss of Rob Burns. Our hearts are with you in this time of sorrow. Richard and Sylvia Boyd

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  3. wendy Gibson Hill :

    What I will remember most about Rob was that he was just always happy and fun and funny. I can hear his laugh. It was infectious. He certainly did leave the party too soon. xwendy

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  4. I would like this message to please be sent to the Burns family. And specifically Angela (who I have not met), and Rob’s father and mother (John and Pat) – who I know a little.

    There was a period (before Rob moved to Toronto and UK), and I moved to Fort McMurray, Toronto (now Bermuda) — around 1988 – 1994, when we spent a lot of time together.

    By ‘we’ I mean a group over about 10-15 20-somethings who all worked at Royal Bank. Rob would know the names instantly. Blake, Jeff, Peter, Louise, Jill, Tania, Shane, Mike C., Jill, Brian, Pam — and a whole bunch of others.

    I can think of about a hundred stories — whether camping, houseboating, stampede, softball or skiing …. or maybe just sitting at the Rose & Crown on 4th street with a few beers — during the 1988 Olympics.

    Anyhow — Rob knew one thing — there was always (always) a specific time for nonsense and fun … and that specific time — was right now.

    I have a picture of Rob — wearing a lady’s bathing suit. Why? Because we were doing a lip sync to ‘Pretty Woman” — and needed a guy in a woman’s bathing suit. Who else but Rob could a) get a bathing suit from some poor woman, and b) wear it while singing. A masterpiece of irony, humanity and comedy.

    What I also suspect — is this …. while I find that story tremendously hilarious — I suspect it is one of (approximately) 500 similar “Essential Burns” moments …. that everyone has. Like a ‘box set’.

    Truly — ‘the one and only – Burnsy’

    If … ‘bring happiness with you’ could be a motto — he wins

    Condolences — to his closest. And sadness to us all. We will keep his spark in us.

    Blake & Tania Hellam
    Laurine Hellam (nee Digney)

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  5. jennifer balfour :

    I am so sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. I hadn’t seen him in decades, but think of him very fondly. Rob had a big generous heart and an infectious sense of humour. My sympathy to his family.

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  6. I am glad to have met Rob and so sad that we lost him. He was amongst the funniest people that I have ever met. I have never seen a more gifted conversationalist.

    You could tell through his demeanor and how he spoke, just how much he loved his wife Angela and his children, Eleanor and Lydia. Our thoughts are with you and all of Rob’s family during this terrible time.

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  7. Karen McCairley :

    Dear Angela and family,

    I am so deeply sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. I was lucky enough to meet Rob through my very good friend, Tim Anderson, 26 years ago. My first encounter with Rob was a memorable one – Thanksgiving weekend, 1988. He and Tim were roomates in Ottawa. Tim introduced him as “crazyrobburns” (virtually all one word). Crazy preceded his name forever more. We hit it off right away (I grew up in Scotland and had now met my first real “Rob Burns” – I mean come on!!) He was hilarious – I mean gut bustingly, laugh-out-loud hilarious. And once he started to laugh, we were all done. That weekend I witnessed his humour in many forms:
    Walking through the “dining room” I saw a post-it note and on it was written, “Tim, call Brian” and Brian’s phone number. Rob pulled me aside and pointed out to me that he left this for Tim, and that the phone number assigned to Brian was actually the number of the Prime Minister’s Office. This was Ottawa, and Brian Mulroney was the PM – and the thought of Tim unkowningly calling the PMO and asking for “Brian” just cracked Rob right up.

    That weekend I was also the victim of a mashed potato offensive. I’m not sure, there may have been a few beverages involved, but suffice to say that the after-dinner shenanigans had Rob flinging mashed potatoes at my head – until I locked myself outside. I am not sure how many people were at that dinner (again, there may have been a drink or two poured that weekend), but it was the beginning of a tradition that involved Tim, Rob, Justine Owen, me, whoever my current boyfriend may have been, and Tim and Rob’s extended Ottawa-Calgary crowd.

    I saw quite a lot of Rob in Ottawa during those university days, as I traveled from Montreal to visit for various weekends. He and Tim came to Montreal too, but Ottawa is where most of the memories are.

    Somehow I managed to inherit Rob’s futon frame when I moved to Toronto for my first job – and shortly thereafter I remember a long phone call from him while he was out in Terrace, BC prior to leaving for University of Edinburgh. He wanted me to tell him everything I could think of before he took off for my native land. I guess nothing I could say would prepare him for the culinary “delights” that Scotland had to offer. He was thoroughly bamboozled by the fact that the ONLY choices for a quick breakfast on his way to class involved deep fried ANYTHING – bacon, sausage, egg, and any combo thereof. It actually inspired him to come up with a coffee and bagel cart idea that he pitched during his MBA studies. He wanted to bring bagels and cream cheese to the Scottish masses who were afloat in a vat of fryer grease.

    I only saw him a couple of times in the past 15 years or so. He married you and was by all accounts – tremendously happy. Whenever I asked Tim how he was doing I always always asked about CrazyRobBurns (never just Rob, and never just Rob Burns). He was one of the good ones. He had a tremendous gift – the ability to make people laugh, and to simply be a truly fun guy to be around.

    My deepest condolences to you and all of Rob’s family and friends,

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  8. Brian Durocher :

    Angela and family,

    Darlene and I were very sorry to hear of the passing of Rob. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Brian Durocher and Darlene Holinski.

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  9. Dear Stephanie,
    My sincere condolences to you, Steve and the girls on the painful loss of your brother.
    Warm regards,
    Susan Lobell

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  10. Deirdre Stephens (nee Saarinen) :

    Angela and the entire Burns Family…my thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Reading all the things that everyone has said about Rob is a true testament to his beautiful spirit.

    I had the great pleasure of meeting Rob and becoming friends with him during high school. I have so many fond memories of cruising around Calgary with Rob, Laura, Catherine and Trisha in Laura’s boat of a car…carefree, wild fun! His sense of humor was legendary and it is rare talent to be able to spark laughter with just a sideways glance. In addition, I found Rob to be an exceptionally kind and supportive person. I remember the anxiety I felt going off to U of T; Rob sensed that and was positive and enthusiastic sharing his stories about Toronto. He made me feel so much better. My parents always commented on what a polite and respectful person he was as well.

    I had the great fortune of being able to continue our friendship in Toronto and there are more memories of visits to the High Park and Davenport apartments, Thanksgiving dinners and general nights on the town. Rob’s visits from Ottawa were always highlights.

    Although I fell out of touch with Rob I was delighted to catch up with him on Facebook and see how happy he looked. I regret not seeing him recently as he truly is one in a million. Reading all the lovely things EVERYONE has to say about him is truly inspirational.

    Deirdre (Saarinen) Stephens
    East Aurora, NY

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  11. Sandy and Jay Kellam :

    Dear John, Pat, Rosemary and Miles and extended family
    Although we didn’t know Rob personally, we had heard nothing but wonderful things about him. We are deeply saddened by your loss, and we are thinking of you all. Our Best. Sandy and Jay

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  12. Ginny and Michael O'Brien-Kelly :

    Dear Angela,
    Please accept our deepest sympathy for the sad loss of Rob. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your girls and both your families.
    Michael and Ginny

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  13. Joelle Brausen-Mar :

    Dear Angela, Lydia and Eleanor,

    Our family was very saddened to learn of your loss and what a loss, Rob was an amazing individual. I worked with Rob at SMED for many years and feel blessed that I had the opportunity to know someone so full of life. I will always remember his bright, constant smile, his infectious laugh, quick wit and good humor. Our thoughts and prayers for comfort and peace go out to you and your extended family.

    The Mar Family

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  14. My deepest condolences to the Burns Family. It was with deep sadness I read of Rob’s passing. I worked with Rob at the Royal Bank and he was a character but always a warm and caring person who could brighten a room by just walking in! Quite often he did not adhere to the dress code re: wearing a kilt to work the counter but somehow he always got away with it! I am glad I had the opportunity to know and work with Rob…he was a one of a kind person.

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  15. Will Matthews and Michele Williams :

    We had the pleasure of going to school with Rob. His demeanour, easy laugh and kindness always made being with him joyful. He will be greatly missed.

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  16. Dear Pat and John

    My thoughts and prayers are with you today as you celebrate the life of your dear son.

    Blessings and love to you both.

    Pat Robert

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  17. Earl and Dianne Gray :

    Dear Angela, Eleanor, and Lydia,

    We knew from Rosemary, Miles, and others there was such love, devotion and joy in your family. Your loss is great. May all your memories of happy times with Rob help ease your sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you.

    Our love,
    Earl and Dianne Gray

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  18. Dear Pat and John and all of Rob’s family,
    I am so terribly sorry to learn of your loss of your beloved Rob. He was much too young. He left big footprints behind, I know, and I hope in time that those wonderful memories will be what you remember the most. May God be with you as you work through your grief. I wish I could be with you at his funeral today, but I will be holding you in my thoughts and prayers in my absence.
    Please accept my deepest sympathy.
    Marion Rogers

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  19. Rosemary and Miles Atkinson :

    On behalf of the Atkinson families and the Howatt families we want to extend our deepest sympathy to all the Burns families. We will miss Rob in our families so much. He was always such a welcome and fun member of our families and we will never forget how much happiness he brought in to our lives. Rest in peace dear son-in-law.

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  20. Dear Burns and Howatt / Atkinson families:

    I was shocked to hear of Rob’s passing through a thoughtful FB posting made by Rachel Crook.

    While my contact with Rob first goes back to the early 90’s, I would run into him from time to time at the Glencoe and always have a humorous chat. He always had time for a quick catch up.

    I did not know of Rob’s passing until yesterday, so I did not make the funeral.


    My sincere condolences.


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  21. Very sad to hear of Rob’s untimely passing. He was a wonderful friend at STS with an infectious laugh and great sense of humour. My sincere condolences to his family.

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  22. Maureen Wickens :

    Angela and family – With sincere and heartfelt sympathy. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Maureen xoxo

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  23. Dear Angela and Rob’s family,
    I was very sad to hear of Rob’s passing today. As I reflect on my time spent with Rob including many a house party or time at the rose & crown, I not only think of his quick wit but also his fantastic smile. Always a feeling that Rob was one of the good guys.
    Humble, smart and kind. I will miss you Rob.
    Angela, you take good care of yourself and your beautiful girls.
    Carol Ashacker becker

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