Dr. John Burns, Long-time BC Physician, Dies

(6-20-97) -- A funeral Mass was celebrated Thursday at St. Ignatius Church for John Joseph Burns, MD, chief physician for Boston College athletic teams for more than 35 years, who died of pancreatic cancer on June 15 at his home in Brookline. He was 82.

For his role in pioneering sports medicine at Boston College, Burns, a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, was inducted into the Boston College Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. He was only the second Holy Cross alumnus to have achieved the honor, after former Celtic great and BC basketball coach Bob Cousy.

His son, John Joseph Burns Jr., '67, is an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Burns was born in Gardner, where he excelled as a schoolboy swimmer, three times winning the Massachusetts 100-meter championship. After graduating from Tufts Medical School in 1941, he served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. He practiced as a surgeon in Brookline for more than 45 years.

In 1950, he began a long and fruitful association with Boston College and its athletic program.

"Our first location was in a house on College Road," Burns said at the time of his 1989 induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame. "It was one nurse and myself in those days. We had one can of Band-Aids between us ... I was on call for only an hour a day back then, and it was a few years later that I got involved with the athletic program."

As director of University Health Services, Burns saw the scope of health operations at the school grow significantly, while playing a key role in the evolution of sports medicine at BC.

Burial was in St. Joseph's Cemetery in West Roxbury.

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