Donald L. Burns, 88, of Gatlinburg, TN (formerly of Richmond, IN) quietly passed away at his home on November 10, 2021. He went to be with the Lord surrounded by his family.

Don, the son of Edith Nickoson and Jonas Burns, was born on December 30th, 1932, in Saline City, IN. He was the youngest of 10 children. Hard times, caused by the Depression, forced his family to move away from the family farm and relocate to Columbus, IN. There he spent his youth helping the family survive the hard times. Many years were spent with no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no central heating, and limited food and clothing.

In spite of the many hardships he faced, Don excelled in both sports and academics at Columbus High School. He graduated in 1951 and had earned 10 varsity letters in multiple sports, was a member of the National Honor Society, and was class Valedictorian. He met the love of his life, Barbara Jane Smith, who attended the same school. He had received a full 4 year academic and sports scholarship to Depaw University, but declined because he did not want to be parted from Barbara. They married shortly after graduation and celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary this year. After graduation, Don and Barbara moved to Port Arthur, TX where he attended Lamar College for one year. He transferred to Indiana University, where he finished a pre-dental program and earned a degree in dentistry. He excelled in his classwork and was selected Valedictorian of the Dental School Class for 1957. To help pay for tuition, after graduation, he joined the Air Force Dental Corps where he served 7 years and received an honorable discharge with a rank of Captain. By the time he resigned his commission from the Air Force, the family had grown and he and Barbara had 5 children. They decided to return to Indiana to be closer to family.

In 1963, Don started a dental practice in Richmond, Indiana. He ran a successful practice for 46 years and was a long-time member of the America Dental Association. In 2008 he retired from dentistry, and he and Barbara moved to Gatlinburg.

Don was a loving husband and father. Although he was very busy, he made time to attend sporting events for children and grandchildren. He and Barbara loved to dance, from disco to square and round dancing. They were members of the Hoosier Corners Square Dance Club, and enjoyed traveling to dances around the Midwest. They also spent many enjoyable hours hiking the trails around Gatlinburg. Don was never idle, when he was not practicing dentistry, he was busy with home improvement and landscaping projects for his own home, as well as his childrens’ homes. He was a wonderful artist and he expressed himself through whatever projects he was working on. In his later years he enjoyed working on puzzles.

He is preceded in death by his youngest son, Bradley. He is survived by his wife, Barbara and his children, Brenda Thomas, Dr. Bruce (Vicki) Burns, David (Shelley) Burns, Drs. Christopher (Jill) Burns. He was blessed with 12 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Tunnels to Towers. Private service at a later date. Online condolences may be made at