“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
This is a post Connie Burns placed on her own Facebook page. Many hearts were broken on August 12 as word spread of the passing of Effingham County’s own Connie Burns. Being a close friend of hers for many years, the meaning of this statement rings true in my heart.
“May you live all the days of your life!” ….Jonathan Swift
I can assure you that Connie Burns LIVED all the days of her life. From college football games to pro games…..from auto racing to jet skis…..from vacations to a quick overnight trip…..Connie was going to find herself wherever the excitement was.
A huge Georgia fan, Connie was going to find her way to every game she possibly could. Not only was she going to find her way there, she was going to drag someone along with her. She was not going to be alone when the cheering started for her “Dawgs.”
One of the things that gave Connie the most pleasure was to be able to share these times with people she loved and cared about. Nothing made her happier than to be able to take a person to their “first” college game…..or for their “first” ride on a jet ski. Connie was all about “firsts.” And, if she could give you your “first” of anything, nothing would make her happier.
I was fortunate enough to share that experience with Connie. She took me to my “first” college football game. This was not just any football game, it was the Georgia/Florida game….you know, the one from a couple of years ago that went into overtime….yes, that’s the one.
We had a blast. We were decked out in our red and black. We had VIP tickets in the box….Connie did not do anything if she could not do it all the way. As we left the box to find our seats for the game, Connie had everyone in Alltel Stadium taking our picture. She is the only person I know that can pull off wearing a red boa to a football game, and do it with style! It is a day I will never forget.
Connie Burns loved to have fun more than anyone I know. And, if you were around her and not having fun, she would make it her mission to change that. She had a knack for putting a smile on your face.
Connie Burns never met a stranger. She could walk into a room of 100 people and be on a first named basis with every one of them before she left. I know that to be fact….I have seen it happen.
To know Connie was to enjoy Connie…..her laughter, her smile, her wit. She was always ready for you….with a big old hug and a good time.
Even better yet, Connie Burns was the most unselfish person I know. If you needed her, no matter what, she was always there. She had a warm heart, a loving spirit, and she was honest and sincere to a fault.
One of Connie’s favorite things of all times was her lake house. She went every chance she possibly could. This was “her” place. But, she shared “her” place with many. She enjoyed inviting people to spend time with her there.
As much “fun” as Connie liked to have, she also had a serious side. Connie was a true professional and a giver of her time and talents. Many people in our community have been recipients of her works, both professionally and personally.
She loved her community. And, that was seen in many ways!
Connie’s spirit will live forever in Effingham County, the place she called home. Effingham was more than a home to Connie. It was a place she took great pride in, a place where she dedicated numerous hours of her life for its betterment. Effingham County was precious to Connie Burns, and her work here was proof of that.
Connie Burns served as the Sanitation Director for Effingham County for the past 12 years. She was one of the most respected department heads in Effingham County and was affectionately known by many as the “Queen of Trash.”
Through her work for our county sanitation department, Connie held many titles and won numerous awards. She helped implement curbside trash collection, built our county recycling program, established a code enforcement program and was Executive Director of Keep Effingham Beautiful. This only names a few.
She was a true believer in giving back to her community, both professionally and personally. As her friend, I know Connie was the kind of person that did not know how to say no. If she felt there was a need, she was first to extend her hand.
Everyone who ever had the honor of working with Connie, either professionally or in a volunteer capacity, loved her. I had the pleasure of working on many projects with Connie throughout our friendship. If I ever needed anything done, I called Connie. She was a go getter and will be missed by many in this community.
If you ask anyone who knew Connie to tell you something about her, you will get some of the same answers….”She had a contagious smile”…..” She was always committed and always followed through to the end”…..”She had a way to always make you laugh”…..”She always wanted to make a difference in the world”….”She loved her family and they always came first”…. This list goes on and on.
When asked this same question, David Crawley, County Administrator and Connie’s boss, shared this with me. “I have heard it said that the measure of man is not the wealth he accumulates, but the wealth of friends he gains through life. Connie truly had great wealth through her friendships. Her caring heart and vivacious personality assured that she never met a stranger. Patrice and I were fortunate enough to not only be able to call Connie a friend, but to call her family. It did not matter that we were not related by blood. She was our sister at heart. I often find myself looking back at the time we shared, however short, and feeling that my family has been truly blessed. Connie’s memory, the gift of her friendships and her good deeds will stay with us forever. She will be truly missed by all who had the honor and pleasure of spending time with her. To meet her, you felt her energy and passion for life and for her family and friends, a giving person in all senses of the word.”
What a powerful testament to such a wonderful person.
Connie’s work in the community was endless. She was very active in the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, she served on the Advisory Board for United Way of Effingham and she was a huge advocate for the American Cancer Society. She was ambassador for the 12th Congressional District for American Cancer Society and made numerous trips to Washington to speak on their behalf.
Even with all the contributions Connie made to the Effingham community, two things meant more to her, her family and her church. When Connie spoke of her family, her face could light up a room. Love would just ooze out of every word. She would waste no time in telling you how blessed she was to have each and every one of them in her life. And, she would also tell you of the loss of her mother, and how much she loved and missed her.
Connie’s spirit will live forever with many of us. Her contagious smile will be embedded in my memory forever, along with her infectious personality and her ability to light up a room by just simply walking in the door. I, for one, am a better person for having known Connie Burns. She taught me a lot about life and how not to take it for granted. I love you Connie…..
Connie leaves behind a loving father, Ronald Burns, two brothers, Randy Burns and Greg Burns and sister-in-law Tammi, nephews, Brantley, Shaun and Shane Burns, Cody and Lane Neidlinger. And her beloved dogs, Linus and Lucy. She also leaves behind her church family, the members of Corinth Baptist Church, and countless, loving friends.
Sanitation Director Effingham County Board of Commissioners
Director Keep Effingham Beautiful
Most Outstanding Solid Waste Professional 2009 by Georgia SWANA
Most Outstanding Public Education Program 2011 Georgia SWANA
Rivers Alive Effingham Coordinator
Governor’s Task Force on Litter Abatement and Prevention
Effingham United Way Advisory Board Member
Government Affairs Committee Effingham Chamber of Commerce
Olde Effingham Days Festival Committee Co-Chair
Judge 1st Annual Effingham Idol
Past Chair Cancer Suvivorship – American Cancer Society Relay For Life
American Cancer Society Ambassador 12th Congretional District
American Cancer Soceity ACT Lead 12th Congressional District
Radio-Thon St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Ferst Books Foundation Effingham Committee Member
Youth Leader/Sunday School Teacher
Keep Georgia Beautiful Executive Directors Association
Georgia Recycling Coalition
Georgia Association of Code Enforcement (GACE) Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, 1st Vice President
Longest serving member of GACE, Level I and II Certified
American Association of Code Enforcement
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Member of 11 years
Director of Communication, Education and Marketing Division SWANA
SWANA Technical Division Member of Collection and Transfer; Planning and Management; Recycling, Waste Reduction and Composting
SWANA Certified Landfill Manager and Recycling Systems Manager
Secretary of Lion’s Club of Effingham Springfield Chapter
Epsilon Sigma Alpha Chaplin
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
National Cancer Institute
Susan G. Komen for the Cure