Kenneth William Burns

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MADISON–Kenneth William Burns, age 80, of Madison, passed away on Nov. 1, 2020, at Agrace HospiceCare, Fitchburg, after a hard-fought battle with multiple health issues. Ken was born on July 31, 1940, in Hollandale, the fifth of 12 siblings born to Joseph and Lucille (Broughton) Burns. Ken married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ryan, on Aug. 3, 1963. Together, they had one daughter, Colleen.

Ken attended grade school and high school in Hollandale. He was the owner/operator of Ken’s Bar in Madison for many years. Ken loved to tell good stories and loved to cause apprehension in his sisters, never quite knowing where the story would end. Having been raised by depression-era parents, he developed a reputation for being very frugal. One lunch patron at his bar offered to return a piece of meat he found in his soup because he did not want to be the guy who ate the only piece of meat in the whole pot of soup.

Ken’s lack of a good sense of direction became the butt of many family stories. One brother offered to give him his old GPS to install on his riding lawn mower. He repeated the phrase “like I say” many times in a conversation. He was never comfortable talking about himself and when asked how he was doing he was quick to change the conversation to something else. Spending time with family, especially his grandchildren, was his favorite thing. “I’ve been called a lot of things but being called grandpa was the best thing.”

Ken is survived by his very dear friend, Joan Flint; son-in-law, Pete Theobald; grandchildren, Christina, Matthew, Nicholas and Olivia; siblings, Michael (Sharon) Burns, Larry Burns, Rose (Michael) Ohlert, Maureen Goen, Rebecca (Larry) Ehrhorn and Georgine Miller; sisters-in-law, JoEllen Burns and Judy Burns; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Mary; daughter, Colleen; brothers, Ronald, John and Patrick; sisters, Virginia Benson and Jocile Pirkel; brothers-in-law, Warren Benson and Robert Pirkel; sister-in-law, Carolyn Burns; and nephews, Michael Benson, Gregory Burns, Joseph Burns and Lucas Burns.

A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held with Monsignor Kenneth Fiedler presiding. Burial will be held at Resurrection Cemetery.

A special thank you to Joan Flint for all the loving care she has provided Ken during these last several months. Also, thank you to all the people at Agrace and hospice for their loving and special care. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Agrace HospiceCare. Online condolences may be made at

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