Howard Lamar Burns was born in Greenwood on September 11, 1914. He graduated at the top of his class from Greenwood High School in 1932. To his classmates he was admiringly known as “Mr. Perfection”, for he had a perfect record in everything he did. He had perfect attendance at all Boy Scout meetings — Troop 3 in Greenwood; perfect attendance at First Baptist Church; perfect attendance in all his classes at Magnolia Grammar School; and perfect attendance at Greenwood High School. One expected perfection on the part of Howard Burns and that is what he gave in everything he did — perfection!
He spent his first year of college at the University of Georgia in Athens, but transferred in 1933 to the University of South Carolina in Columbia. At USC he continued the tradition of perfection, graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1936. This man’s pursuit of perfection took him to Harvard Law School where he earned an LL.M. degree and taught classes to undergraduates.
His abilities and pursuit of perfection caused him to be recognized by his elders, his contemporaries and others. He served with distinction on important committees of the South Carolina Bar Association; as a Special Judge; as President and Chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce; as a member of the Clemson University Board of Visitors; as a soldier and captain in World War II; as a member of the American Bar Association, Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference; as President of the American Law Institute; as a member of the South Carolina Law Examiners, the South Carolina Research Authority, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and as Chairman of Winthrop University Board of Trustees.
He also served Lander University as a Trustee; the Greenwood Rotary Club as President and member for fifty years; and as President of the American Judicature Society. He also served as a member of many other civic and professional societies and associations including the famous Augusta National Golf Club.
He was Greenwood’s Young Man of the Year of 1947 and Man of the Year in 1972; a life member and the first President of the Greenwood County Historical Society; a Director of Banker’s Trust and was a recipient of the James Patterson Medal. His honors are too numerous to mention in this small amount of time we have to pay our respects to his outstanding and glorious career.
He was twice married, first to Elizabeth Lucas, who predeceased him. They had two daughters, Mrs. Eugene Gaillard Johnson, III (Elizabeth B. Johnson) and Mrs. James Graham Padgett, Jr. (Anna B. Padgett), who survive him. His second wife, Lida L. Burns, also survives him, as well as grandchildren, step-grandchildren and great step-grandchildren. Howard Lamar Burns died February 15, 1996, at age 81.