Adam Nicholas Burns was born on January 8, 1987, in Spencer, IA to Dennis and Julee (Birdsall) Burns. He was baptized on February 1, 1987 and later confirmed his faith on March 27, 2003 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Hartley, IA. At the age of 35, Adam was called Home on December 2, 2022, as a real hero to many.
In high school, he was involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, Spanish National Society, and was active in football, basketball, golf, baseball, choir, show choir, school plays, and large group speech. In 2005, he graduated from Hartley Melvin Sanborn High School as the salutatorian of his class.
After graduation, Adam attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA. Adam's charismatic personality acquired even more lifelong friends. During his college years, he was a Student Alumni Ambassador, played in intramurals, was on Pro-Board, and was an active member of St. Steven the Witness Catholic Student Center. He graduated in 2009, with a degree in secondary education and a coaching endorsement.
In August of 2010, Adam started an exemplary career in Denison, IA as a high school math teacher. Adam took so much pride in being a teacher and coach; it was his lifelong dream. Helping others was always at the forefront of who Adam was. He went out of his way every day to offer an encouraging word, a genuinely kind gesture, to get students to laugh, and to push them to their best. He always made sure his students and athletes were okay and knew he cared for them. He taught more than just math, more importantly he taught life lessons to these kids, always wanting them to be the best versions of themselves. He was truly an example to live by.
It was Adam's first in-service day in the high school library that he would meet his forever love. It was Denison and golf that brought these two together. Adam and Katie were engaged in April of 2011, and were united in marriage 7 months later on November 19, 2011. Their marriage was built with God at the center. The two built a beautiful life together and their love was truly something special and rare. They were blessed with two beautiful girls, Kennisyn (9) and Kirslyn (7) who were his greatest pride and joy.
In April of 2021, Adam was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. He underwent surgery, radiation, and months of chemotherapy before the cancer was stable on MRI scans. During his treatments, it was important to Adam that he kept teaching and continuing his coaching assignments, never even missing a practice. Then, 13 months after his original diagnosis, Adam's GBM returned, but in an entirely new location, the cerebellum. This time Adam underwent more radiation and chemo. With this experience, it pushed him harder to COMPETE - Cancer did not slow Adam, Katie, or the girls down.
Anyone who knows the Burns family knows they are always "on the go". Whether it be attending school and community events, taking family trips, vacationing with friends, or traveling to see family members, doing these things as a family was special to Adam's heart. Every other winter, Adam and Katie would take special couples vacations with their close friends. In the Summer of 2021, following his diagnosis, they took the girls on two important family trips; Florida to see the ocean, and Branson, Missouri, where they accomplished playing golf at Payne's Valley as a family of four, one of Adam's dreams. He was also able to go to Denver with close friends to see his beloved Broncos get a victory at Mile High Stadium. In the winter of 2021, they were also able to travel on their regular couples vacation to Arizona and to finally take a Sponder family trip to California to spend time with Katie's parents. Adam was the husband who would always help to hear all sides, pull together thoughtful and romantic surprises for Katie and the girls, nudge to take these memorable trips, and so much more. He was the father that pushed through the pain of cancer treatments to do what he needed for his little girls. He loved playing catch in the yard, shooting baskets in the driveway, and pitching for batting practice. He wanted the best for his family and never made a decision without considering what would be best for the people around him.
Adam is an example of a faithful and loving man. He surpassed any goal set and would tackle every obstacle. He was encouraging, supportive, honest, caring, and could make anyone in the room laugh. He was a loyal friend who would show up the moment you called and always gave advice when you needed it. He never turned down an opportunity to gather with friends or family and cherished every moment of it.
Through Adam's love of helping others, he and Katie started a non-profit called Compete For A Cure. From all the outpouring support and love they have received from everyone; their goal is to be able to help other families going through the same battles. Adam walked into many people's lives and he never walked out. In just 35 years, he created a beautiful family and a massive community. He has lived big and inspired others around him to have an endearing and fighting spirit.
We ask that everyone that knows our beloved Adam to write a story and share pictures or videos of him. We'll be compiling the stories for Kennisyn and Kirslyn so they'll always be able to read about their daddy.
Adam is survived by his wife, Katie Burns of Denison; two daughters, Kennisyn and Kirslyn Burns of Denison; parents, Dennis and Julee Burns of Hartley, IA; siblings: Ryan (Dawn) Burns of Williamsburg, IA and children Dylan and Austin; Jon (Libby) Burns of Brandon, SD and children Jackson, Kenzi, and Iken; Nicole (Justin) Vinzant of Sioux Falls, SD and their children Dylan, Sydney, and Cameron; special cousin Matt (Molly) Conlon and children James and Isabel; father and mother-in-law, Larry and Kathy Sponder of Le Mars IA; sister-in-law, Amy (Adam) Schmidt of Le Mars, IA and children Kynlee, Rylann, and Aynslee; sister-in-law, Lindsey (Nathan) Schroeder of Le Mars, IA and children Slayton, Easton, Sutton, and Gaston; many special aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Gale and Jessie Birdsall, Robert and Norma Jean Burns; step-Grandmother, Myrna "Babe" Burns; and uncles, Jim Conlon and Tom Watt.
Visitation with Family Greeting Friends will be from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a Rosary at 3:30 p.m. and Prayer Service at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Denison. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, 2022 also at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Denison. Private Family Burial will be in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Cemetery in Denison. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Adam Burns Family for his children's future education fund, his Compete for a Cure foundation, and the creation of an annual Denison High School scholarship in his name.
Livestreaming of Adam's Mass of Christian Burial will be available on Thursday, December 8, 2022 at the Huebner Funeral Home Facebook page at 2:00 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/huebnerfuneralhome
Christopher Benson wrote on Dec 14, 2022:
"I still remember the three semesters in high school where I had Mr. Burns on my schedule: general math for 3rd block on 'A days' (fall 2010), general math for 1st block on 'A days' (spring 2011), and geometry for 1st block on 'B days' (fall 2012 - 10 years ago at this time). I will always remember him as a great math teacher, and for the other good times. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Brandi Merrick wrote on Dec 7, 2022:
"An absolutely wonderful person and phenomenal teacher - you helped make my first few years of teaching so much fun! Singing Seasons of Love in algebra - much to the surprise of the students - is a memory I will keep forever. I wish all the love, comfort, and peace to your sweet family as they carry on your memory and spirit. "
Beth Ann Vogt wrote on Dec 7, 2022:
"Adam and my mother were going through treatments at the same time this past Summer at UNMC. We would often see him & Katie as we all awaited our turn at the radiology oncology department. Our family was so inspired by the strength, faith, & grace both Adam & Katie emanated as they courageously competed side-by-side to beat a disease nobody should have to battle, let alone a young family like theirs. Adam has been a stellar example for all & changed the lives of so many young people for the better! He will be deeply missed in the local community. I cannot stress enough how much respect I have for Katie & the girls for the courage they showed, & continue to show, while walking right beside Adam on this journey. Thank you, Burns family, for showing us that God is good all the time, that life is meant to be lived courageously & with a faithful heart, & that love will always win, even in the hardest of times. You are all in our family?s thoughts as you navigate your loss & bravely walk toward the future keeping Adam?s beautiful legacy alive for so many others who need the same faith, hope, & love he showed throughout his battle. "
Barb Klett wrote on Dec 5, 2022:
"Adam was an amazing young man. I remember having him in ccd class he was a blessing even then. Loved having him in my class. He was a thoughtful, giving and caring youth. Thoughts and prayers are with you all. May you cherish the beautiful memories and always feel the love that surrounds you.
Casey Beam wrote on Dec 5, 2022:
"I wanted to let you know you had a great influence to me in high school and even after I graduated. Your hi?s relayed through our foster kids always put a smile on my face that you remembered who I was and my name. You will always be the best math teacher I?d ever had. I still remember when Mrs. Nielsen duck taped your chair to your desk and you just unscrewed the back of the chair and scooted around without a back?. You then proceeded to do math on the board and she left you a marker that was dried out. You threw it away thinking nothing of it and reached for the single marker left and it was super glued to the ledge ? i never did know what you did to get her back but it was great. I pray for you and your family"
Brady boell wrote on Dec 4, 2022:
"To the amazing and smart man that helped turn my life around and point me in a direction that changed me. I?ll forever miss you and the memories we hold, nothing can make me forget ?Be the best version of yourself Brady ? Adam was a mentor, leader , and teacher who has impacted me greatly, Monarch Pride coach and ill keep being the best version of me I promise for you! ?"
AJ n Linda James wrote on Dec 4, 2022:
"We?ve known Adam for all his life. From golfing to his spicy ettouffe to dragging the raft on the river to his vacations and even dragging Katie along. I?m sure everyone in Denison is going to miss this great guy and family man. I know we will!! God gained a great person!!!"
Kelly Lux wrote on Dec 4, 2022:
"My sympathies to the Burns and Sponder families especially Katie and the girls. May God give you peace in the days ahead. "
Rachel Evers wrote on Dec 4, 2022:
"What an amazing person and what a remarkable life! May God grant you eternal peace Adam ???. Your shining personality will live on in our hearts.
Sending love to all his family."
Cindy Schmitz wrote on Dec 4, 2022:
"Adam touched my life , when we worked together @ Hartley golf course, such a kind, helpful man. A true inspiration to so many people came in contact with, it shows thru his wife, & daughters ??"
Renee Lutz wrote on Dec 3, 2022:
"Adam was a true inspiration to all who came in contact with him! He gave his all in all that he did! He will be truly missed. Our prayers & thoughts to all of Adam's family."
Tim Pauley wrote on Dec 3, 2022:
"God bless your family . New angel "
Bailey R wrote on Dec 3, 2022:
"Over the years I have created such a memorable bond with Coach Burns. He not only coached us in golf but he made the efforts to coach us in life in hopes to make us better people and the world a better place. My favorite memories live on in the advice he gave on the golf course and early morning drives on the way to tournaments. We shared many laughs and learned the value of love, honesty, and life. I will always cherish the words of wisdom and lessons he taught me over the years."
LeeAnn Kleinberg wrote on Dec 3, 2022:
"Rest in peace Adam "
Marge and Dan Miller wrote on Dec 3, 2022:
"Our Thoughts and Prayers go out to the family of Adam during this difficult time. He was a fighter and will be missed dearly?? R.I.P ADAM"