Hamilton native Bob Burns was successful enough in music and social media that he earned mentions in Rolling Stone magazine’s American and European editions.
Curtis Robert Burns died Friday, Oct. 19, of a sudden illness. He was 48.
As lead singer of the band Big in Iowa, which toured nationally and in Europe during the late 1990s into the early 200os, his singing was described in the magazine in Europe. Former bandmate Rick House of Middletown said the magazine described him this way: “Bob sounded like if Van Morrison played with the Rolling Stones — that’s what they compared his voice and our music to.”
As social media representative for the Transportation Security Administration — the people who frisk you at airports — the magazine’s American edition in 2016 ranked him No. 4 for his Instagram work, just ahead of Beyoncé. One witty thing he did was announce the strange and unusual things TSA inspectors found in people’s luggage.
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Candy Creech, sister of Burns’ wife, Jennifer Locke Burns, notes Burns, who was known as “Blogger Bob,” was featured in numerous articles and television shows for his social media work.
“Everyone says he made the TSA human,” Creech told the Journal-News.
Longtime friends and family say his wit and magnetic personality made him a success, and a leader in what he did.
John Wilkerson, who had known Burns since age 9, said, “He was always very witty, and he just attracted people to him. Strangers became friends immediately.”
“He was the perfect choice for a lead singer in a band, even though he was a kid at that time, he really had no experience or anything,” bandmate House said. “His personality just made him a perfect choice.”
“He had so much raw talent, and he was the primary writer,” he added. “Ninety-nine percent of the music we did came from his pen. He was a very raw talent.”
The band won several Cammys, Cincinnati’s version of a Grammy, and Burns in May won a prestigious Webby award for social media work.
Burns was born July 25, 1970 to Lawrence Burns and Brenda Kurtz. He graduated from Hamilton High School in 1989, later serving in the Army during Operation Desert Storm. He attended Miami University but after forming a band, left to pursue a music career.
He was married Oct. 26, 2001 to Jennifer Burns, who this week called him her love and best friend, adding he will be missed. Needing a more stable job to support his family, he became a TSA security screener at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and quickly became a trainer. He later began blogging, and worked for the agency in Washington, D.C.
After four years there, and with family in Butler County, “he proposed to them he could do his job from anywhere,” Creech said.
And that’s what he did, working out of his West Chester Twp. home.
“TSA mourns the loss of Curtis Robert Burns, or as most of you know him, Blogger Bob, who passed away (Oct. 19),” TSA’s Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs Michael Bilello wrote in a blog post. “His death is a shock and the enormity of his loss can only be imagined at this time. He loved this agency. He loved the people who work here. And he loved the American people we serve.”
“His gift to us all was laughter, and he reminded us that as serious as the mission is, you can still find humor in the daily duties,” Bilello wrote.
Burns was scheduled to appear Nov. 7 as part of the Celebrating Self series at Fitton Center for Creative Arts
“We mourn the passing of a devoted husband and father, accomplished musician, award-winning social media director and proud Hamiltonian,” Fitton Center Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley said in a statement. “Our thoughts and very best wishes go out to his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”
Full refunds are available for all tickets purchased for the Nov. 7 event by calling 513-863-8873, ext. 110.
Burns is survived by daughters Hannah Ryleigh Burns and Heidi Rowan Burns; his mother, Brenda Burns Kurtz; and his father, Larry Burns.
Visitation will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Avance Funeral Home and Crematory, 4976 Winton Road, Fairfield. A celebration of his life will begin at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers a GoFundMe account has been set up for his daughters’ trust.