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John L. Burns, owner of Formals by Burns Bros.

June 6, 1930 – Oct. 27, 2014

John L. Burns of the Town of Tonawanda, owner of Formals by Burns Bros., died Monday in Hospice Buffalo Cheektowaga after a long illness. He was 84.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Burns graduated in 1948 from Canisius High School and in 1952 from Canisius College with a degree in economics.

Mr. Burns went to work for Burns Bros. Men’s Wear, which was started in 1919 by his father, Leo, and five uncles after they returned from World War I service. The shop on Allen Street, near Main Street, in Buffalo sold men’s suits and tuxedos and moved several times to different downtown locations.

A friend and coworker, Charles McDonough, introduced Mr. Burns to his sister, Joan. They were married in 1955. She died last year. Mr. Burns and his brother-in-law took over the business in 1966.

“He could look at somebody across the room and tell you what size shirt, pants, suit — everything,” said his daughter, Ellen.

Burns Bros. moved to the Northtown Plaza in Amherst in the 1970s and to Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda in the early 1980s. Mr. Burns closed the store in 2010 but continued to fit men for formal wear at his home before fully retiring in 2012.

Mr. Burns was a member of the Town of Tonawanda Irish American Club and marched annually in Buffalo’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He was awarded the club’s Eric Raine Memorial Award for community service in 2002. He enjoyed summers on the beach in Silver Bay, Ont. and traveling with his family.

Survivors include three daughters, Mary Kay Flett, Ellen Gibson and Peggy Marino; two sons, Thomas and Matthew; a brother, Peter; and 11 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. today in St. Amelia Catholic Church, 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.

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