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James O. Burnley, 95

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James Otis Burnley, 95, well-known Hudson artist, died peacefully Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, at the Lutheran Home in River Falls.

James was born on Jan. 12, 1914, in Kansas City, Mo., the son of John Phillip and Gertrude (Otis) Burnley.

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He attended Graceland School prior to graduating from Paseo High School, both in Kansas City. He furthered his schooling after high school through scholarships to the Kansas City Art Institute and the Arts Student League in New York.

He was drafted into the United States Army during World War II, in which he served in the European Theatre.

On June 10, 1942, he was united in marriage to Edythe "Ede" Wright on the banks of the St. Croix River near Bayport.

Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he remained active in the Army Reserves. The Korean Conflict required James once again to be recalled to active duty, serving as commander of the 373rd Engineer P.B. Company. He continued his military career in the Army, retiring as lieutenant colonel.

Once retired, he revisited his passion in life, his paintings. He was a gifted painter who enjoyed painting personally but not commercially. His prolific works of art have graced many locations, such as the Hudson Hospital. James was one of the driving forces which helped found the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. He served on the building committee that purchased the land where the Phipps sits and was instrumental in its earliest additions.

He taught painting lessons out of his home, and James truly personified the "Greatest Generation" as being resourceful, creative and intuitive when it came to his art. The saying that goes "One man's trash is another man's treasure" worked for James as well. He took great pleasure from visiting the local dump, finding rewards and art.

Outside of his art, he and Ede thoroughly enjoyed friends and entertaining them with dinner parties. They also enjoyed traveling to such places as Honolulu and Scotland. He enjoyed his home overlooking Lake Mallalieu and doing his yard work.

He was also an active member of the First Presbyterian Church serving as an elder and in the choir.

James will remain in the hearts of his son, David and wife Ellie on North Hudson; step-grandson Michael (Wanda) Burnley of Hudson; step-great-grandson Tayler Stuber; nieces and nephews John (Onnolee) Hill of River Falls, Jim (Donna) Hill of River Falls, Bill Wright of Virginia, Jim Wright of St. Paul, Richard Wright of St. Paul, Barbara (Charles) Juergens of St. Paul, Carole Broehl of Pennsylvania; and special friends, Mitchell and Carolyn Greunke and their family of Hudson.

He is preceded in death by his parents, John Phillip and Gertrude (Otis) Burnley; parents-in-law, George and Helen Wright; sisters, Ruth (George) Hill and Gertrude Burnley; brother, John Phillip Jr.; wife, Ede; and brothers/sisters-in-law, Allen (Betty) Wright and William (Anna) Wright.

A Celebration Of Life for James Burnley is at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson with Pastor Stephanie Anthony officiating.

Burial with full military honors provided by the Hudson VFW will be in the Willow River Cemetery with active casketbearers being Michael Burnley, Tayler Stuber, Hugh H. Gwin, Mitchell Greunke, John Hill, Christ Madsen, Robert O. George with honorary casketbearers being Dr. James Cumming, Warren Pagel, Peter Todd and Jake Greunke.

Visitation was Wednesday from 5 until 7 p.m. at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson and one hour prior to the service at church on Thursday.

Memorials are preferred.

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