Lawrence Trandon Francis Burns
January 29, 1942 – October 10, 1986
Larry Burns came to Yale from the Park School of Buffalo. He spent his junior year at Albert-Ludwigs Universitat in Freiburg, Germany, an experience that appears to have been life-changing. He returned to Germany after graduation, and eventually enrolled in the film studies graduate program at Northwestern, studying for the PhD but leaving there ABD in 1976.
In Los Angeles he started a wholesale and retail cactus business. In 1981, he formed Hollywood Neon, which designs, manufactures, and sells neon products for home and commercial use.
He maintained many lifelong connections with friends he made in Germany and California, and he read widely and deeply. For unknown reasons he became disaffected with the East Coast, and he vowed not to cross the Mississippi River again. According to a letter his mother wrote after his death, "He stood up for what he believed, no matter what anyone else thought. He gave the first Gay Rights party in Chicago, and 500 people came. He was so proud of that, and yet he felt it was something he couldn't share with his family. He made the world a better and more tolerant place."
During his final illness, his doctor said that even when Larry "was operating at 50%," he was still "way ahead of all of us."
Larry died of AIDS in 1986 in Los Angeles, leaving his parents (now deceased), a younger brother, Theodore (now deceased), and an older sister, Patricia. His former brother-in-law, W. Leslie Peat, holds 1966 Yale LL.B. and M.A. degrees.