Dennis M. Burns, 67, was a director at Dept. of Labor and Industry, avid motorcyclist

By on February 15, 2017

Dennis M. Burns, 67, of Palmyra, passed away after a seven-year struggle with brain cancer on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Ephrata, surrounded by family.

Dennis was born in Drexel Hill to the late Joseph J. and Anna G. Burns (Higgins) on Nov. 16, 1949.

He attended school at Monsignor Bonner High School and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Bellarmine University, Louisville, Ky. For 35 years, he worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry where he rose to the position of regional director of Tax Operations and Unemployment Compensation, but those who really knew him have always suspected he only played solitaire. He was forced to retire in 2010 when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumor. Though he called it work (but was actually just another way to indulge his passion for riding), Dennis also was a motorcycle safety instructor for Pennsylvania’s Motorcycle Safety Program.

Dennis was a founding member of the B.O.A. (M.C.) motorcycle club where he made lifelong friends and traveled across America and even saw the world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Ky. He was almost always on a Harley Davidson.

As a loyal member and supporter of the rooms, Dennis was set to celebrate his 30th year of sobriety this year. He shared his story with countless folks in the rooms and helped others overcome their addiction. He even worked for a time at the Gate House in Lititz as another way to give back to the community that supported him in his time of need.

His thirst for life was unquenchable. Dennis loved skiing and once nearly gave himself a heart attack as he hiked up the side of Breckenridge Mountain in Colorado just so he could cut some fresh tracks in pure powder. He loved to hike and dreamed of one day hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Dennis ran and even participated in a few half-marathons before his traitorous knees gave out on him. But as if this wasn’t enough to prove that he was truly living life to its fullest, he even took up skydiving for a time. Dennis was a devoted Philadelphia sports fan, and held a special place in his heart for the Eagles. The only thing he (possibly) loved more than the Eagles was being a father, and later, a grandfather.

Surviving Dennis are his sons: Dennis M. Burns Jr., husband of Elizabeth Larkin Burns (Hess), of Ephrata; and Matthew J. Burns, husband of Lisa Ann Burns (Leon), of Voorhees, N.J.; three grandchildren: Gavin L. Burns of Ephrata, Pa.; Emma C. Burns and Grace K. Burns of Voorhees, N.J.; and ex-wife: Kathryn G. Oberholtzer (Kolling), wife of William Oberholtzer, of Zephyrhills, Fla. Also surviving are siblings: Joseph F. Burns of West Chester and Patricia A. Conley of Chadds Ford.

Services were held Feb. 11 at Stradling Funeral Home, Akron, with the Rev. Marilyn Nolte officiating.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Brain Tumor Association, because with your help no one else will have to lose a loved one to cancer.

Arrangements by Stradling Funeral Homes Inc., Akron/Ephrata. Online condolences can be given at

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