Mr David Burns (Bruce 47)

25 August 1928 – 16 September 2022

David’s life spanned the reigns of five monarchs, just. In a symmetry he would have loved, Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne while my parents were on their honeymoon. This year they and her late Majesty celebrated their respective Platinum Jubilees. Charles III was proclaimed King a few days before my mother’s birthday on 15 September and the following day, my father died.

David was educated at Stowe, where he excelled in Latin, acquired his love of trees and the landscape and played cricket brilliantly. One of his teachers was T.H. White, author of The Once and Future King. For an intellectual and inquisitive boy like David, it was an approach that bore fruit and his thirst for learning endured the rest of his life.

David heard the voice of Caruso on the school sanatorium wireless. It was a Damascene moment. He introduced his friend, contemporary Stoic, his best man and our godfather the late Michael Triefus (Walpole 47) to opera. Between them they collected hundreds of gramophone records and deafened their families as they listened to them far into the small hours.

Called up for National Service in 1946, David and his friend, the late Brian Couzens trained at Holywood Barracks in Northern Ireland. Brian and David lived just streets away from each other as children but did not meet until they went to Belfast.

David was commissioned into 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and served with the regiment in Palestine during the Arab/Israeli conflict until the British Army withdrew. Another friend of David’s, the late Jim Vallis was out there at the same time. He told me that David was held in the highest regard by those that served alongside him and greatly respected for his bravery and leadership during a period of extreme violence and treachery.

In 1951, at a Promenade concert in the Albert Hall, my father met a dark-eyed beauty called Diana Oxenford and his life changed forever.

Although David regretted not going to university, he did achieve the qualification of Master of Wine in 1956. To this day it’s a notoriously difficult exam to pass.

In retirement David lost no time in pursuing his passion for music, going to and supporting concerts, opera and music festivals, visiting art galleries, enjoying his MCC membership at Lord’s, playing golf with the Todds in Spain, completing The Times jumbo cryptic crossword, playing bridge, reading and taking his grandsons to the pantomime.

He believed that after death he would join his family and friends gone before, and that we at ours, would follow him to be with God. May he rest in peace.

Juliet Brown, David’s Daughter