Burns honored for ‘Golden Deeds’

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 2, 2009

Brookhaven’s Frank Burns has become the latest community servantto have his name recorded in the Brookhaven Exchange Club’s Book ofGolden Deeds.

After being named the award’s recipient Friday night at theclub’s 2009 Golden Deeds Banquet at Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege’s Thames Center, Burns, 85, finds himself mentioned in thesame category as some of Brookhaven’s most generous givers over thelast half-century.

“It’s the culmination of 60 years of service in the exchangeclub,” said Burns, who has been an active member since 1949. “It’san award coveted by all of Brookhaven.”

Burns, who owns and operates Brookhaven Nurseries, said he wassurprised to be named this year’s recipient of the Golden DeedsAward, which the exchange club bestows annually to those who putservice to their community above themselves by volunteering,donating and overall selflessness.

“There are so many more people who have contributed more to thewelfare of Brookhaven than I have,” Burns said.

Golden Deeds Committee Chairman Jimmie Gillis said Burns wasselected because of his faith, his work through his business tobeautify Brookhaven and his sharing of the profits from hisbusiness to help the city’s needy.

“There is no way of knowing how much he has given from hisbusiness to organizations and charities,” Gillis said. “He hasgiven to the library, nursing homes and hospitals and any otherplace he could.”

Aside from his penchant for giving, Burns also has a richhistory in the club’s biggest event, the annual Exchange Club Fair.He ranks second in years of membership behind only Charles”Ploochie” Ratliff – the club’s only living charter member.

Burns is the “inventor” of the curly fries sold ot the Midwayduring the fair, a blend of fries and onion rings that consistentlysells well and helps raise money for the club’s charitabledonations. He also built the fair’s original “chunk-n’-dunk,” thewater tank in which dignitaries are submerged with a well-thrownbaseball.

Much to the club’s delight, Burns recalled the booth’s firsttrial run decades ago, a test that resulted in his posterior cominginto contact with his shop’s concrete floor. Burns also employedhis handiwork to build the Exchange Club Park’s first train and itsfirst baseball-throwing booth.

“He has served this club with utmost dedication, not only tojust make it work, but make it be extremely successful with themany lives he has touched in this community,” Gillis said ofBurns.

Gillis called Burns a “counselor,” quoting Proverbs 11:14 -“Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitudeof counselors there is safety.”

It was an appropriate comparison for Burns, who said his faithis a large part of his service.

“That’s part and parcel of it all,” he said after receiving theGolden Deeds Award. “I’ve never gotten tired – it’s always been apleasure. I enjoy the fellowship of the club, and I have lifelongfriends.”

Burns recommend that Brookhavenites all get involved in theircommunity and join with “people of like mind.” He also said suchservice is helped along by having a “wonderful wife like I’ve hadfor a lifetime,” sharing the credit with his wife, Kay Burns.

The Brookhaven Exchange Club’s second-highest award Friday nightwas awarded to club president Lynn Boyte. While presenting Boytewith the 2009 John L. Leary Award, an honor voted on by the entireclub, member Harold Gary said Boyte has “provided strongleadership” to the club throughout the year.

Boyte said he was surprised to receive the Leary award, sayingthere were many other members deserving of the honor.

“I’m surprised, yet proud,” Boyte said. “It represents a year’swork, but it’s rewarding work – the things we’ve done to help thecommunity. The club brings a closeness to the community, and I’mproud to be a part of it. We enjoy every minute of it.”

Boyte honored his elders, saying the only reason the BrookhavenExchange Club enjoys its current success is because of the longtimeleadership of men like Burns and Ratliff.

“We have them to thank for the club being where it is today,” hesaid.