By David Rogers. February 15, 2015. BLOWING ROCK, NC – Jerry Burns was a man about town. Really, he was about Blowing Rock.
Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
It wasn’t so much that he was editor of The Blowing Rocket for 40-something years. Sure, it was that, but Jerry Burns was about so much more.
Fittingly, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum’s (BRAHM) newly opened exhibit, “Jerry Burns: Through the Lens,” is a multi-faceted celebration of the life and times of “Mr. Blowing Rock,” as Mr. Burns was widely known. He served the community in countless ways. As editor of the Rocket, he was chronicler and “town crier.” But he also served as Town Commissioner, as an officer and board member of Blowing Rock Rotary, Blowing Rock Stage Company, Blowing Rock Hospital, and several other non-profit agencies serving the community. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also a volunteer firefighter.
For so many years, Jerry Burns was Blowing Rock’s “unofficially official” historian. The collection of photographs so appropriately displayed in the BRAHM exhibit are living evidence of what this man meant to our community. His archives became the storehouse of Blowing Rock memories: the Town’s events and activities and, in oh-so-many ways, its people. His own captured images of parades and special events reflect the Rockwellian “Americana” that has endeared Blowing Rock to so many, but he also collected and stored many more photographs taken by others through the years, even before his time.
The exhibit’s opening reception attracted people in the hundreds, each of whom came to honor this man one more time, or perhaps to learn things about their friend that they never knew. Organized in categories, the exhibit is a potpourri not only of life in Blowing Rock, but the personal side of Mr. Jerry Burns, including from his childhood.
Jerry Burns loved children, and there is a whole wall dedicated to that special love he had of watching kids grow. There is a wall devoted to his “keen sense of humor,” another about “events around town” and still another about the weather in Blowing Rock, which during certain times of the year can be an adventure unto itself.
Blowing Rock News spoke with Janice Burns Friday night at BRAHM, asking her what this exhibit and the reception meant to her and her memory of Jerry.
“I am somewhat overwhelmed by the turnout,” Mrs. Burns admitted. “I lived with the man every day, so I knew how special he was. But to have so many others stop by and view this exhibit, to take photographs with their own mind’s eye to take home with them, just underscores the importance of how many lives he touched in so many significant ways. It was rarely with a lot of fanfare, but Jerry just being Jerry: kind and caring and always thinking about what was best for Blowing Rock.”
“Jerry Burns: Through the Lens” is a not to be missed exhibit upstairs of the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, running through April 25th. Be prepared: bring a Kleenex as you look into this man’s life and times.