Beloved and long-time Press Club member, Donald Burnes died Wednesday, October 22nd. Visitation will be from 3 p.m.-9p.m. today, Friday, October 24 at Kutis Funeral Home, 10151 Gravois Ave. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 25 at St. Dominic Savio Church, 7748 Mackenzie Road, Affton. Internment will follow at Resurrection Cemetery
KSDK -- Donald Burnes, a pioneer in local broadcasting and a member of two local media halls of fame, died Wednesday at St. Mary's Health Center of complications of a major stroke he suffered Sunday. He was 79.
Burnes worked for nearly 25 years as the director of public relations at KSD Radio and then KSDK television. He was one of the first public relations directors at a network affiliate in the United States. While at KSD and KSDK, Burnes was instrumental in the success of numerous local programs, including "Metronome;" "Corky the Clown;" "Newsbeat" with Dick Ford and John Auble; and numerous other programs.
Burnes ran the Jefferson Awards, sponsored locally by Channel 5, which honored unsung heroes, and the News Quiz, which tested students on local and national news. He was also instrumental in promoting NBC programs locally, including "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson, "The Today Show" and others. He helped coordinate the production of "Lucas Tanner," an NBC program filmed partially in St. Louis in 1974.
He was a 2003-04 inductee into the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame, where he was noted for "behind-the-scenes efforts that helped propel the station to a solid market position."
In 1997, he was inducted as a Silver Circle Member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Chapter. The Silver Circle is an elite group of professionals recognized by the NATAS Mid-America Chapter for making a significant contribution to television for the last 25 years.
In 1996, he was awarded the William Barnaby Faherty, SJ, Alumni Merit Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Louis University. He was the school's first communications major to win the award.
Born Donald Francis Burnes on Jan. 18, 1929, he graduated from St. Roch Parish School in 1942, Christian Brothers College High School in 1946, and the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Louis University in 1950. As a student at SLU, he helped create the university's first radio station, KBIL.
After his graduation, he worked as a cub reporter at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, working alongside another cub reporter, the late Harriett Woods.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951. During the Korean Conflict, he wrote, hosted and produced a series of music programs featuring the Fourth Army Band out of Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, which was broadcast over the CBS Radio Network, the Armed Forces Radio Network, among other outlets.
After his honorary discharge, he worked in public relations for the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (the Muny) in its then-offices in downtown St. Louis during the summer, and for the St. Louis Symphony in the winter; his boss was the late Willie Zalken. He worked for Willier and Associates, a private agency, and then for the American Cancer Society, where he led the area's first media effort in the fight against cervical cancer.
After his nearly 25 years at KSD/K, he began his second engagement at the Muny, now in Forest Park, where he lead the theatre's public relations efforts in support of its traditional summer season, plus the winter season it was then producing at the Fox Theatre.
In 1986, he formed his own public relations firm, Burnes and Associates, which he ran until he retired in 2003. Clients included Cerro Copper Products, Pizza Hut, Kiwanis Camp Wyman, the Greater St. Louis Marching Band Festival, and the Greater St. Louis Book Fair. June 12, 2002, was designated Don Burnes Day by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
For more than 28 years he taught public relations at his alma mater, Saint Louis University, and the University of Missouri, St. Louis. In 1994, he was named teacher of the year in the Evening Division at UMSL.
Burnes also put his vast musical knowledge to work when he hosted big band and dinner music programs on KCFM, and was the on-air co-host of the "Muny Preview" show for two years on KMOX.
He was the first president and longtime board member of the Friends of Steinberg Rink; and a founding member of the St. Patrick's Day Parade organizing committee. He was a board member for the Sacred Heart Program's Media Mass; the Press Club of Greater St. Louis; the advisory committee of the University of Missouri, St. Louis and the Mercantile Library's Media Halls of Fame; St. Louis University High School; Nerinx Hall High School; the United Way; the Tip-Off/Billiken Club of Saint Louis University athletics; the Advertising Club; the VP Fair/Fair St. Louis PR Committee; and the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society; he coached numerous youth sports teams; and he lectored at his longtime Catholic parish, St. Dominic Savio in Affton, for more than 45 years. His book, The PR Gospel According to Me, was self-published in 2006.
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Marianne, of Affton; son, William, daughter-in-law, Joan, and their children, Brian, Elizabeth and Michael, all of St. Louis Hills; son, James, daughter-in-law, Margaret, and grandson, Alek, of Ft. Collins, Colorado; son, John, of Los Angeles; and daughter, Mary Margaret, and son-in-law, Patrick, of St. Louis Hills. Burnes was the youngest brother of the late Robert L. Burnes, longtime Globe-Democrat sports editor and KMOX radio host. His other brothers were Brian Burnes, late of St. Louis; and James Richard Burnes, late of Great Falls, Montana, and St. Louis.
Visitation is after 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at Kutis Funeral Home, 10151 Gravois Ave. in Affton. Mass of the Resurrection is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 25, at St. Dominic Savio Catholic Church, 7748 Mackenzie Rd.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that friends and family have a Mass said in his name at their local church, or donate to the charity of their choice.