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Former Tennis Great Robert Burns Passes

Oct. 24, 2003

Former Clemson tennis great Robert Louis Burns, Cdr., USN (Ret.) died Wednesday at home following a valiant battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. He was 64. Burns’ career singles record of 60-11 from 1959-62 still stands as the highest winning percentage (.845) in Clemson history. His career doubles mark of 23-5 (.821) is also a school record.

Mr. Burns graduated from Dreher High School in Columbia, SC and received a B.S. from Clemson University. He played on the tennis team was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. Mr. Burns’ naval career covered 26 years as a surface warfare officer and he retired as Commander in 1989. He was a decorated Vietnam Veteran, and among his many awards and decorations includes the Meritorius Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with 2 bronze stars and the Vietnamese cross of Gallantry.

Mr. Burns also graduated from the Naval Post Graduate School with a M.A. in Mechanical Engineering. Following his retirement from the US Navy, Mr. Burns was coach of the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams at Charleston Southern University for four years, and followed that as Assistant Tennis Coach at the College of Charleston for several years.

Surviving Mr. Burns are his wife, Barbara; two sons, Brian G. Burns and his wife, Michelle, of Ridgeway, SC, Kevin B. Burns of Summerville; a brother, William C. Burns and his wife Edith of Bassersdorf, Switzerland; a sister, Catherine S. Angus and her husband, Howard, of Columbia, SC; and a grandson, Christopher Robert Burns, of Manasquan, NJ.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 25, at 11 o’clock at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church, 28 Sumter St., Summerville. Flowers will be accepted or memorials may be made to The Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Woodholme Medical Building, Suite 515, 1838 Greene Tree Rd., Baltimore, MD 21208. Burial will be private.