Diane ‘D.J.’ Burns

BIG BAY, MI – Diane “D.J.” Burns, 55, of Big Bay, Michigan entered eternal life on February 21, 2021, with her loving family by her side, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer.

D.J. was born on May 15, 1965, in Philadelphia, PA, to Michael and Maria Hughes (Santa Barbara). She grew up in a large family with three sisters and two brothers. She eventually found her forever home in the Upper Peninsula during a visit with her sister, Eileen, in 1993.

D.J. met the love of her life and soulmate, Scott Burns in 1993, at Vangos in Marquette, while out with a friend. Scott had just finished helping a friend move a woodstove, D.J. took one look and fell in love with Scott at first sight. Shortly after they went on their first date at Eastwood Lanes were inseparable from then on. A year later they married on October 29, 1994. D.J. and Scott moved to Scott’s grandparents’ home, in Big Bay, Michigan, soon after.

D.J. was a kind and selfless woman with a charm and love for life that never went unnoticed. She worked at the Big Bay Township Office for several terms as the township clerk, during which time she created and hosted an afterschool program, Give Em’ Five, for the kids in the community. She would frequently take the children on camping trips as well as set up fun activities for them throughout the town.

D.J. absolutely loved the outdoors, family camping trips, taking rides through the woods, and fishing – she was especially fond of the fishing tournaments on Lake Independence frozen or open water, didn’t matter. Scott and D.J. made a point to show their children their love for the outdoors. If it was lesson they learned is when you arrive to the fishing spot you would have to say, “Gullah, Gullah, Gullah”, to call in the fish. Let me tell ya, I don’t know how they did it but it worked.

She had a deep and exceptionally fierce love for her husband, four children, three grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, and rest of her family – which included her “adopted” children, as she was always a mother to her children’s friends and anyone who needed her – often giving them and everyone she loved special nicknames that were only used by her and will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

She had a lifelong love for all and every creature and critter and had an innate desire to care for those who could not speak for themselves, often taking time out of her drive to help turtles safely cross the Big Bay streets or going out of her way to help lost dogs find their homes. She instilled this passion and sympathy in her family, so although she is gone, a part of her will always live on through them – the turtles will continue to safely cross the road and lost dogs and kittens will find their homes.

She later began a long and notable career as Postmaster with the United States Postal Service at the Big Bay Post Office. She was widely known and loved around the community by all who had the opportunity to see her smiling face while at work. She was and will always be a symbol of kindness and generosity, not just amongst her family and friends, but amongst her community as well. D.J. continued to spread her kindness throughout the Upper Peninsula when in the fall of 2014, the family moved from their Big Bay home to Sault Ste. Marie. She continued her beloved work with the United States Postal Service at the Sault Ste. Marie Post Office.

In the spring of 2018, she, Scott, and their pup, Cooper, found home on a small farm in the town of Bark River, MI, while working as Postmaster at the Wells, Michigan post office, where she continued to do the job that she had loved so passionately. She chose to continue her work for months after being diagnosed with stage IV terminal mesothelioma. Her strength, courage, resilience and dedication, as well as her love for her family and life, got her through some of the darkest months. Her battle was long and tiring, but never once did she give up the fight. Because that’s just who she was, and that was the message she wanted to leave behind.

D.J.’s life may seem short to many, but those who knew her understood that the quality of her life and the love and warmth that she consistently exhibited far exceeds the quantity of time in which she lived.

She is survived by her husband, Scott; her children, Jenny Park-Burns, Jackie (Jeremy) Blankenship, Lena Park-Burns, and Scotty Burns, Jr.; her grandchildren, Jasmine Eileen Blankenship, Jack Ivan Blankenship, and Josephine Diane Blankenship; her mother-in-law, Carole Burns; her sister, Maria Larson; her brothers, Sean and Kevin (Rita) Hughes, her sister-in-law, Debbie (Rex) Shotwell; her pup, Cooper, as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

She was preceded in death by her sisters, Eileen Bigger and Michelle Novotny; her father, Michael Hughes; her mother, Maria Santa Barbara; and her father-in-law, Dennis Burns.

A gravesite service will be held on June 19th 2021, with Darryl Small officiating. More details will be given at a later date.