Joe D. Burns, veteran forestry leader, dies
Joe D. Burns, Lousiaian timber man
Joe Dae Burns of Jonesboro, owner of Burns Forest Products at Danville in Jackson Parish, died on May 18 at age 94. Funeral services were held on Sunday, May 20 at the Jonesboro United Methodist Church, of which he was a member, under direction of Edmonds Funeral Home in Jonesboro.

Services were conducted by Rev Bill Strawbridge, with burial following at Old Shongaloo Cemetery.

Mr. Burns is survived by his daughters, Beverly Burns Covington, Sharon Burns Foret, Mary Helen Burns, Melinda Burns Moore, and grandchildren Chad Turner, Andrew Foret, Dr. Jonathan Foret, Ashley F. Dees, Amanda Azzarelllo, Matthew Moore, Michael Moore, Elizabeth Moore, John David Moore, 11 great grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Andrews Burns, his parents, Isaac Lee and Donne Bell Boucher Burns, and nine brothers and sisters.

Serving as pallbearers were Chad Turner, Andrew Foret, Jonathan Foretm Natthew Moore, Michael Moore, John David Moore, and A.J. Burns, Jr.

Mr. Burns was one of the early members and officers of the Louisiana Forestry Association, and a long-time president of the affiliated Louisiana Forestry Foundation which awarded scholarships to college students entering forestry as a major, at Louisiana State University and Louisiana Tech University.

An article written by Mrs. Mary Hamner based on a personal interview and published in The Piney Woods Journal in February, 2011, is reproduced in part here, detailing his life and connections in forestry and other fields, including living and work conditions in this region in an earlier time not remembered by today's generation:

Joe Burns was born in 1923 on a farm at Shongaloo in Webster Parish, the youngest of ten children. People ask him if it was Old Shongaloo, or New Shongaloo, Burns said. I tell them that I went to church at Old Shongaloo, to school at New Shongaloo from our farm about halfway in between. I say that I walked a mile from our home to meet the school bus. Actually it was about 3/4 mile . . .

My parents owned a good sized farm and had ten sons and daughters. One of my brothers drowned in 1930, and today at 87, I am the only one of ten left.

I was born in the front edge of the Great Depression, and Papa was growing cotton to suppport our family. President Roosevelt and his administration, in an attempt to deal with the national economy emergency, came up with the New Deal, a revolution in the American way of life. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) one part of Roosevelt's program, was created to raise farm prices by taking land out of production. Papa took Roosevelt's New Deal guidelines seriously.

One of every four rows of cotton was plowed up and replanted with a row of speckled peas. This was supposed to reduce cotton production nationwide by 25%, and qualified the farmer for a "pea check" which we needed in the economic crisis of the Depression.

We all got up early every morning to do our homework, milk a bunch of cows, and tend to about a hundred chickens. We had a separator to separate the cream. A store in Haynesville bought it and sold sour cream. We had no ice or refrigeration at that time, so we lowered buckets of milk down in our well to keep it from spoiling. With ten of us to feed, that milk didn't last long. Mama and Papa sold eggs to add to our family income.

It was a way of life in the country at that time, and I attribute my work ethic to those early years. I graduated from Shongaloo High School in 1940. It was a relatively small country school but I got the basics I needed to continue my education.

World War II for America began December 7, 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other bases in the Pacific, drawing America into the War which lasted through 1945.

Joe Burns entered the U.S. Army, serving in the European Theater, was involved in three campaigns, and earned the Bronze Star medal for Valor. He was released from active duty in the Army Reserves, with the rank of Captain then went on to serve four years in the Louisiana National Guard, honorably discharged as Major.

Mr. Burns graduated from Louisiana State University in 1947 with a degree in forestry, and gained his Masters in Forestry in 1948. After two years with the LSU Extension Service in DeSoto, Natchitoches, and Sabine parishes, he served as Chief Forester for Tremont Lumber Company in Joyce, for 12 years.

In 1962, Burns opened the office of Burns Forest Products at Danville in Bienville Parish, and incorporated as Burns Forest Products Inc. in 1963. The firm contiunues to operate in timber marketing and management, and is one of the major pulpwood suppliers to the paper mill at Hodge, formerly owned by Continental Can, Smurfit-Stone, and today, North Rock.

Burns Forest Products, at the time of the 2011 interview, had oversight of over 15,000 acres of producing timberland.

Mr. Burns has earned many special awards from business and professional organizations connected to forestry. He served twice as president of the LSU School of Forestry Alumni Association, and as a member of the Louisiana Forestry Commission, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Public Affairs Research Council. He is a member of Lions International, Jackson Parish Chamber of Commerce, and sponsorship of Boy Scout and Girls Scout programs.

He served as president of the Louisiana Forestry Foundation, affiliated with the Louisiana Forestry Association, from its inception in 1967, and was proud of the 40 scholarships awarded annual to students entering forestry studies at Louisiana Tech and Louisiana State University.

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