Monday, April 12, 2010



The Seattle Community Council Federation regrets to announce the death on April 3 of Doris Baxter Burns, who served for many years as its President and most recently as its Treasurer. Burns was 83 years old, and leaves behind a sister, daughter, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her history as a talented and colorful community leader is a panorama of public interest issues in Seattle of the past half century.

In Seattle and statewide, Burns was for decades a powerful advocate for better and more open government, and for protection and improvement of neighborhoods. Generous in donating to grassroots and progressive candidates and causes, she was active in the Democratic Party in the 43rd district, where her late husband Bill Burns was elected to the state House of Representatives.

For many years, Doris Baxter Burns chaired the City University Community Advisory Committee, a unique body established by the City of Seattle and the University of Washington to guide the university’s development. Although she had a UW degree in social work and was extremely generous to the university with donations, she also formidably insisted that UW listen to the neighborhoods and that it avoid unreasonable expansion.

In years as President and board member of the Montlake Community Club, Burns brought many improvements to Montlake Elementary School, Montlake Community Center, Montlake Playfield and other parts of the neighborhood. With equal skill and verve, she protected Montlake, the Arboretum, and all of northeast Seattle from proposed expansions of State Route 520. She also co-founded a forerunner of the Northeast District Council, years before thirteen district councils were recognized as official Seattle advisory committees.

Burns was always willing to put her name on the line in civic causes. Utility customers will forever benefit from the 2007 case of Burns vs. Seattle, in which the Washington Supreme Court ruled that utility rates were being illegally tapped for non-utility purposes, and forced millions of dollars in rebates, giving the public more control over spending and taxing decisions.

A remembrance event will be held but is not yet scheduled. In memory of Doris Baxter Burns, a civic action fund has been established by the Seattle Community Council Federation, one of the nation’s oldest alliances of neighborhood organizations. Donations are tax-deductible, with checks made out to SCCF/Burns Memorial Fund and sent to SCCF, PMB #373, 4616 25th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98105. For questions, contact SCCF Treasurer Chris Leman, (206) 322-5463,

1 comment:

Larry Fogdall said...

At 2 places, you wrote "it's" when you meant to write "its." (Signed) Larry Fogdall