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Thomas Francis Burns, 83, a former U.S. Marine pilot and retired Hereford breeder and rancher, died on Friday, April 11, 2003, at his home in Chinook of natural causes.

A memorial service will be May 24 at 2 p.m. at the Kuper Memorial Cemetery.

Thomas was born at the family ranch near Lohman on Jan. 28, 1920, and graduated from Chinook

High School in 1938. He attended Montana State College in Bozeman in 1942 and earned a bachelor of science degree in botany and bacteriology.

Thomas married Ethel Graybill of Great Falls in May of 1943. He was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corp in 1943, where he served as a flight instructor and spent time in the Philippines and China as a fighter pilot. He was honorably discharged as a captain in 1945.

After returning from the service, Thomas spent his life on the Clear Creek Hereford Ranch, successfully raising purebred Herefords and grass and alfalfa seed production. He was active in the Montana Stockgrowers Association, National Cattleman's Association, director of the Montana Seed Growers Association, supervisor of Blaine County Soil and Water Conservation District, director of General Agriculture Corp., Blaine County Farm Bureau, Northcentral Montana Land and Mineral Owners Association, executive board of Northern Montana College, Masonic Lodge, past Master, Shrine, American Legion, past commander, Chinook Chamber of Commerce and Chinook School Board.

Thomas retired in 1990 and moved to Kalispell, where he was involved with the Shrine Club and Soaring Society. He returned to Chinook in 2001.

Memorials are suggested to the Chinook Lodge #50 or the Shrine Hospital.

Thomas was preceded in death by his parents, Harry L. and Hulda Burns; wife, Ethel Burns in 1989; and brother, Richard.

Survivors include his son, Thomas F. (Joan) Burns Jr. of Denver; daughter, Linda (Robert) Sharples of Chinook; sister, Harriet (William) Kuhr of Great Falls; six grandchildren; and four great-granddaughters.

Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home.


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