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PASSAGES Information technology specialist Erik Burns dies at 45
by Carrie Maxwell
2021-12-20

This article shared 5318 times since Mon Dec 20, 2021
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Tribune Media Service Delivery Vice President and former information technology (IT) project manager Erik Burns died Dec. 10 after a 13-month battle with stage four metastatic colon cancer. He was 45.

Burns was born June 26, 1976, in Chester, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Avalon, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in finance and information systems. Almost immediately after graduation, Burns traveled throughout Europe with a friend. At the end of that trip, Burns had a private audience with and received a blessing from Pope John Paul II.

Some of the work Burns did was as an IT project management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago where he stayed for almost three years. Burns was also an IT security and risk management manager at the Los Angeles Times and spent about 20 years working for Tribune Media in various capacities.

When Burns was in Los Angeles he met his future husband Benjamin Sprunger. This was in 2006. They relocated to Chicago in 2007 and got married in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Sept. 23, 2017.

Burns and Sprunger loved to travel. They had a goal of playing miniature golf in every state and had already done so in 29 states and other countries before Burns' death. He served on the finance committee for several years at About Face Theatre as part of his board membership, and also was the treasurer of his building's condo association.

He is survived by Sprunger; parents William Burns Jr. and Sarah Jane (Gilbert) Burns; sisters Dana (Steve) Cohen and Erin Burns, five nieces and nephews—Henry, Libby and Gus Cohen and Brynn and Grant Diefenderfer; many aunts, uncles and cousins and countless chosen family members and friends.

"Erik was never afraid of doctor visits and always went at the drop of a hat as soon as he felt something was wrong," said Sprunger. "This was no exception. As soon as he felt something was amiss in October 2020, he went to the doctor and kept going back to the doctor until they ordered a colonoscopy and discovered a small tumor.

"A friend to all and generous to a fault, Erik laughed louder than most, loved life in a way that many would find enviable and never turned down an opportunity to celebrate with anyone. He also strongly believed that 'memories matter,' and though he will be mourned by so many, remembrances of his bright blue eyes, his wide, enthusiastic smile and his fun-loving antics will not soon be forgotten."

"The world lost an incredibly kind, compassionate and loving soul," said longtime friend Nina Fernandez in a Facebook post. "Erik was one of my dearest friends. He made me live out loud, laugh out loud and love out loud even when I did not want to. My love for him was obvious. His love for his family and friends was obvious. There are so many memories and so many photos but that will never be enough. You were so brave in your 13 month battle with colon cancer. You fought to the end. We will forever love you and hold Benjamin tight. Fuck cancer. I am heartbroken."

"Erik was one of those life-long friends you have always dreamed you would have," said longtime friend Joe Koecher. "He was someone who, when you meet them early enough in your life, you could forge a strong and long lasting bond with. Erik and I met on the gay beach in Los Angeles. His towel and roommate Bobby were sitting right in front of me. That was over 20 years ago. The friendship grew, as did our family tree of friends. From LA and then to Chicago, our lives and experiences grew richer and stronger.

"We did everything together. He was my mentor, partner in crime, emotional support, drinking buddy, ski pal and travel partner. I was there when he met his husband and again when they were married. I am proud to have been his friend and happy that I made him laugh. He lived so deeply and loudly. And his memory will live on for myself and his chosen Chicago family. I loved him dearly."

"Erik had a passion for life and lived life to the fullest and loudly," said longtime friend Sonia Arroyave. "His boisterous, bold contagious laugh reverberates throughout my being as I recall the many belly laughs we have had. We were fortunate to be part of his chosen family and got to experience his many passions, traditions, travels and love for food."

Burns' celebration of life/visitation will take place Sunday, Jan. 23 from noon to 5:00 p.m. at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago, Illinois 60613.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers people should make a donation in Burns' memory to aboutfacetheatre.com/ , aliverescue.org/ and/or centeronhalsted.org/ .


This article shared 5318 times since Mon Dec 20, 2021
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