Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award (1966)


Retired botany professor and administrator George W. Burns, who served Ohio Wesleyan University for 33 years, died Saturday at home. He was 80.

His career included service as acting university president, the authorship of two textbooks, and botanical research in Alaska and India.

Dr. Burns, 354 Troy Road, became an assistant professor at OWU in 1946, and reached full professor in 1954, serving until his retirement in 1979. While at OWU, he served as chairman of the Botany-Bacteriology Department from 1954 to 1970; was acting vice president and dean, 1957-59; acting president, 1958-59; and vice president and dean, 1959-60. He won the President Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award in 1966.

He was a botanist for the American Geographical Society’s Alaska Glacial Research Expedition in the summer of 1959; acted as botanist with the Ohio State University Institute of Polar Studies’ Glacial Expedition to Alaska in 1961; was a visiting professor at Kerala University in India in 1964; worked with the University of Bombay, India, 1965-66; and was a consultant for the State Department Educational Mission to India, during the summers from 1964-67. He wrote two textbooks, including The Science of Genetics: An Introduction to Heredity.

Dr. Burns was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as secretary and executive vice president of the plant science section. He was secretary, vice president, and president of the Ohio Academy of Science, and was a member of the American Genetic Association, the American Society of Human Genetics, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Arctic Institute of North America, the Botanical Society of America, and Sigma Xi.

During World War II, he served as a meteorological officer with the Navy in the Pacific theater. He taught at the University of Minnesota from 1945-46 before coming to OWU.

He received a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Cincinnati in 1937 and a doctorate in botany from the University of Minnesota in 1941.

He was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 20, 1913.

Surviving are his wife, Hermine (McDonald) Burns; a daughter, Barbara Spears of Portsmouth; two sons, George of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Scott of Chicopee, Mass.; and five grandchildren. A private burial in Oak Grove Cemetery is planned.

A memorial service will be held at Asbury United Methodist Church on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the Revs. James Leslie and Alan Kimber officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Botany Department at OWU or to Hospice at Grady, 561 W. Central Ave., Delaware.

Arrangements are being handled by Robinson Funeral Home.