Helen Burns, 98, of Princeton, died May 14 in the University Medical Center at Princeton. She was the wife of the late Dr. Arthur F. Burns, the John Bates Clark Professor of Economics at Columbia University, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Eisenhower administration, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board during the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations, and Ambassador to West Germany during the Reagan administration.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Mrs. Burns was a former resident of New York City and Washington, D.C. She was a graduate of Hunter College, where she majored in Classics. She received a master’s degree in Education. She taught in the New York City Public School system in the years following her marriage. She was fluent in many languages in addition to English: Latin, Greek, Russian, German, and Yiddish.
Later in her life, Mrs. Burns was active in the Academy of American Poets where she was vice president in charge of grant applications. She held annual poetry luncheons in Washington, D.C. and later in Bonn, Germany, attended by up to 200 women, including Mamie Eisenhower, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Janet Auchincloss, many cabinet wives, and Mary Wilson, wife of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Some of her guests traveled long distances to attend the luncheons, for example Lenore Romney from Michigan and Mrs. Claude Brinegar and Mrs. Roy Ash from California.
Mrs. Burns chose a theme for her luncheons — “summer,” “virtuous women,” or “the Bicentennial” — and then spent many weeks in the library searching for the best poems that fit the theme. She then put copies of the poems in a booklet distributed to each guest. The luncheon guests would then read a poem from the booklet or choose a different poem.
Mrs. Burns was instrumental in getting American poets commemorated on U.S. postage stamps. Her late husband indicated that she sweet-talked then Postmaster General Winton Blount into the project during two Air Force One plane trips they shared from San Clemente to Washington, D.C. in 1969. The Postmaster General accepted on one condition, that Mrs. Burns would speak at the dedication ceremonies. She gladly accepted and made speeches at many of the dedication ceremonies held in the home towns of the eight poets selected.
She is survived by two sons, David Burns of Portsmouth, N.H. and Joseph Burns of Princeton; and three grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Academy of American Poets for the Helen Burns endowment, 584 Broadway, Suite 604, New York, N.Y. 10012.
Richard C. Johnson, 47, formerly of Princeton, died April 25 in Naples, Fla.
He is survived by four sisters, Barbara, Edie, Lyn, and Donna; a brother, Dennis; and many nieces, nephews, and extended family members.
A memorial service will be held at a future time at the convenience of the family.
Gilbert Lea, 95, a Princeton resident from 1936 to 1961, died peacefully on May 4 in Vero Beach, Fla.
Born in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., he grew up in the family home in Wynnewood, Pa. He attended the Montgomery School and then St. Paul School in Concord, N.H., graduating in 1932. At St. Paul’s he received the Gordon Medal awarded to the best all-around athlete and was captain of the football team. After graduation he attended Princeton University, Class of 1936, where he started on the football team for four years as an end, playing both offense and defense. The Princeton team was ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1933 and 1935. At Princeton he was a member of Cottage Club.
His early working years were interrupted by military service during the Second World War. He served in the Army as an artillery instructor for two years at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and one year in California and Texas helping to build the 13th Armored Division. In the last year of the war he was assigned to the European Theatre as a battalion commander of an armored artillery unit attached to the 3rd Army commanded by General Patton. He ended the war in Bavaria as a Lt. Colonel and was awarded several battle stars and an air medal for commanding the assault of a combat unit from a cub airplane.
In 1938 he married Nancy Nalle of Charlotte, N.C. He was active in Princeton University alumni affairs as chairman of annual giving 1961-1962, chairman of the athletic committee, president of Princeton Alumni Associations in both Maine and Vero Beach, Florida and as a member of the Princeton Alumni Council for almost 20 years. He served on the Executive Committees of the National Football Foundation and the Visiting Nurses Association. He also served as president of the Pretty Brook Tennis Club for 17 years.
Most of his professional life was spent in New York, first for Time magazine from 1936 to 1948, for Business Week for four years as executive V.P. in charge of Eastern Market; then at McGraw Hill as the eastern advertising manager for Business Week; then as advertising director of McCall’s Magazine. He left McGraw-Hill in 1957 to work for 12 years at Ogilvy & Mather as vice president in charge of new business, ultimately serving as the agency’s account executive for Sears Roebuck. He was instrumental in getting public approval for the construction of Lincoln Center.
In 1962 he married Phyllis Thaxter in New York. Not long thereafter, they moved to Cumberland Foreside, Maine. In 1967 he purchased the Tower Publishing Company of Portland, Maine, which he operated until 1982. He became a full time resident of Vero Beach in 1982.
Active in Maine community affairs, Mr. Lea was a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church in Falmouth and a longtime member of the Portland Country Club. He was also head of the American Cancer Society and a trustee of the Baxter School for the Deaf. His avocations included painting, tennis, sailing, and golf.
He was predeceased by a son, Gilbert Lea Jr. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Phyllis Thaxter Lea; a daughter, Ann Lea Fries of Savannah, Ga.; a son, Thomas Lea of Cumberland Foreside; a stepdaughter, Skye Aubrey of Orlando, Fla.; a stepson, James Aubrey; and his first wife, Nancy Genung of Princeton.
A memorial service will take place in Maine at a date to be determined.
Memorial contributions may be made to the VNA/Hospice Foundation, 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach, Fla. 32960.
Dorothy A. Servis, 83, of Princeton, died May 16 at home.
Born in Wilkes Barre, Pa., she has been a resident of Princeton since 1947. She retired in 1992 from Princeton Township after eight years of service as a finance clerk in the finance department. She was previously employed at the Center for Marketing Communications in Princeton.
She was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of Princeton Engine Company No. 1, a life member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Firemen of the State of New Jersey, life member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Firemen of Mercer County, and a member of St. Paul’s Church and its Golden Agers.
She was predeceased by her former husband, Norman Servis; a son, Norman Servis Jr.; and two siblings, Donald Everett and Marie County. She is survived by a daughter, Sheila M. Servis of Princeton; a brother, Leo Everett Jr. of Ottsville, Pa.; a grandson; and a great-granddaughter.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated May 20 at St. Paul’s Church, 214 Nassau Street. Entombment was in St. Mary’s Mausoleum in Hamilton.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Health Care Ministry of St. Paul’s, Inc., P.O. Box 1517, Princeton 08542; or to Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 529, Princeton 08542.
A memorial service for Charles E. St. John, who died December 13, 2007, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 at The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, Route 206 at Cherry Hill Road.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542.
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