Winston J. Burns, Sr., Booker T. Washington High School

Coach Winston J. Burns, Sr., Booker T. Washington High School

Coach Burns received his early education at Valena C. Jones Elementary School and graduated from Xavier University Preparatory School. After serving his country as a U.S. Marine, he desired to advance his education and graduated with a B.S. degree from Xavier University.

Winston’s older brother Dr. Leonard Burns, was his role model and his inspiration to join the Marines at the early age of seventeen, thus beginning what was to become a stellar career in service to his country. Winston served with honor in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict. In 2012, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for his service as a Montford Point Marine during World War II. It is the nation’s highest civilian award. As a testament to his military legacy, his uniform, along with his brother Dr. Leonard Burns’ uniform is on permanent exhibit at the National WWII museum.

Coach Burns began his professional career as a Health and Physical Education teacher in the Orleans Parish School System, where he worked for 30 years. At Carter G. Woodson Middle School and Booker T. Washington High School, he was head coach of the track and field and football teams and won several championships. Coach Burns was renowned as a mentor and father figure for numerous young men. He demonstrated the power of one man to change lives. Leading by example, he taught his students the value of an education and hard work. He motivated them to succeed whether on or off the field in order to become productive citizens. However, he willingly relinquished his coaching career to help care for his family when his beloved wife Gretta suffered a serious illness. After retiring from the school system, he began a new career in public service as a Court Crier in Juvenile Court for the Parish of Orleans for 25 years. There, he continued to mentor young adults and was celebrated for his decorum and wisdom in assisting youth in navigating the juvenile court system. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Children’s Defense Fund Award for his contributions and commitment to New Orleans youth. 

Coach Burns took great pride in the fact that he and Gretta, along with several of his friends built the family house which continues to this day as the center of family life. There was always room for one more at the Burns’ home where love and laughter embraced all who entered. Coach Burns was a true servant leader.

Booker T. Washington High School