Cover photo for James "Jim" Cannon Burns, Jr.'s Obituary
James "Jim" Cannon Burns, Jr. Profile Photo
1921 James 2021

James "Jim" Cannon Burns, Jr.

May 24, 1921 — December 1, 2021

James Cannon Burns, Jr, was born at home, upstairs and across from the South side of the Methodist Church in McKenzie, TN on May 24, 1921, to the late James Cannon Burns and Mary Bobo Burns. Jim passed away peacefully on December 1, 2021, at the Penney Retirement Community, outside Jacksonville, Florida.  Jim was 100 years of age.

Jim was predeceased by his loving wife, Mildred “Mena” Anderson Burns, who recently passed away on November 17, 2021.  Jim and Mena had been married for over 70 years.  Jim is survived by his sister, Betty Burns Raffield McCarty, and his children Linda Burns Bayles (Brad), Bob Anderson Burns (Cathy), Ben Anderson Burns (Christina), Kent Anderson Burns (Susan) and Mary Anderson Burns Murray (Jack); his beloved grandchildren, Amanda Burns Cody (William); James Anderson Bayles; Taylor McKenzie Bayles, Benjamin Burns Bayles, Cannon Anderson Burns, Kendall Elizabeth Burns, Morgan Magdalene Burns, Anderson William Burns; Mary Jordan Anderson Burns, Virginia Anderson Burns; Ashton Burns Murray Tingas (Arthur), James Kirtis Murray, IV (Emma), Kaitlin Sandra Murray, and Cody Madison Murray; and his extended family of nieces and nephews.  

Jim was a member of the Methodist Church in Shelbyville, TN until he moved to Orange Park, FL in 1998. Thereafter, he was a Presbyterian in the winter when he was in the Jacksonville FL area, and was a Methodist in the summer when he was in the mountains of North Carolina. Jim taught Sunday school for over 30 years.

Jim attended all years of high school at Dickson County High School in Dickson, TN where he was President of his senior class and Valedictorian. Jim attended Vanderbilt University starting on September 1, 1939, the day after Hitler went into Poland. He graduated three years and four months later in December 1942. Jim was a member of Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa, a men’s honorary fraternity.  Jim was Vice President of his ATO chapter, Co-manager of the baseball team and Business Manager of the school annual. Jim won the Founder’s Medal in Oratory at Vanderbilt.

Jim volunteered for the Army and was called to active duty on January 26, 1943.  He was in World War II for three and a half years. He received his Commission in the Army Air Corps at Yale University in October 1944, and went overseas to Tinian Island in 1945.  He served there and in the Philippines until the summer of 1946. Jim was recalled to active duty on April 1, 1951, during the Korean War and served 18 months.

Jim graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in August 1948, after having passed the Tennessee Bar Examination in February of 1948. Jim practiced law in Shelbyville, Tennessee, from August 1948, until being recalled to active duty as an electronics engineer in April 1951.

Jim married his wife Mena on June 16, 1951, in Jacksonville FL, having courted her by auto and train from October 1950.  Jim and Mena lived, and he practiced law, in Memphis for three years after Jim finished his Korean War service. They moved back to Shelbyville in the fall of 1955 and Jim began law practice for the third time. Jim practiced law in Shelbyville until October, 1998, when he and Mena moved to Florida.

While Jim lived in Shelbyville, he was a member of the Jaycees of which he was President of the local club and was Tennessee Vice President. Jim was also a Rotarian for more than 30 years and was local President in 1966-67.

Jim was in various businesses in Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida from 1957 through 1997, and was engaged in farming in a cow/calf operation from 1961 through 1997. After disposing of his businesses and farming interests, Jim was primarily engaged in the apartment ownership and rental business in Nashville, TN, Jacksonville, FL, Johnson City, TN and St Augustine, FL.

Jim was always close to his relatives on both sides of his family and felt he was blessed to be buried next to his great grandparents in McKenzie, TN who had moved to West Tennessee in 1820 and 1832 respectively. West Tennessee was open for settlement after Andrew Jackson entered a treaty with the Indians in 1820, whereby the Indians were removed from West Tennessee to the West. In that year, Jim's great grandmother, Margaret Patton Burns, moved to Carroll County (which was made a County in 1821). Jim’s grandfather, J. T. Burns, moved to McKenzie in 1875, and entered the mercantile business under the name of the Moore and Burns Company, which business operated until around 1929.  His other grandfather, Foster Bobo, Jr., was in a similar competing business in McKenzie from around 1900 until around 1931. Jim and his parents moved to Nashville, TN in 1934, and then to Dickson, TN in 1935, and then back to Nashville in 1940.

Jim and Mena spent their later years in a retirement community in Penney Farms Florida, just South of Jacksonville. The family would especially like to thank the caregivers at Penney Retirement Community for their care and love of Jim over the years.  The family is having a celebration of life memorial service for both Mena and Jim on December 6, 2021, at Penney Memorial Church, 4465 Poling Blvd, Penny Farms, Florida, at 2:00 PM EST.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Penney Retirement Community, 3495 Hoffman St, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043.  Written by Jim Burns, updated by the Burns Family.

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