CMU-Montrose Honors Long-time Ag Leader Doyle Burns

Jan 30th @ 8:26 am in Local Events, News, People, Public Service by Scott Staley

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Doyle E Burns with CMU President Tim Foster

Norma Olivas and Leia Edson each received a $3500 scholarship yesterday from the newly named Doyle E Burns Scholarship Fund at CMU-Montrose.

Doyle Burns receives Key Citizen award from Mayor Thomas Smits


Students furthering their education at the Montrose Campus of Colorado Mesa University will now have an opportunity to make their quest more affordable thanks to a significant donation to a newly created and named scholarship fund.

At a gathering yesterday, CMU officials joined the Montrose community in celebrating the 93rd birthday of Doyle Burns, a Montrose resident since 1980 who, among other accomplishments, was instrumental in the creation of the National Potato Marketing Board legislation that was signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

Burns is the father of Sharen Branscome. Sharen and Jim Branscome, who are generous supporters of the CMU Montrose Campus, donated $150,000 toward the creation of the Doyle E. Burns Scholarship Fund. Their donation is matched by a $150,000 commitment from CMU and added to more than $75,000 donated by others in Montrose for a scholarship fund of more than $375,000.

“All I can say is thank you to the Branscomes and Mr. Burns. Their generosity exceeds imagination. Their largess will enable more students to build brighter futures for themselves and for our community,” said CMU President Tim Foster.

The annual scholarships will be available to CMU students attending classes in Montrose who have a grade point average of at least 2.5. The amount of the individual scholarships and the number awarded each year will depend on the number and needs of the scholarship applicants.

Jim Branscome, Tim Foster and Sharen Branscome with a bowl full of money, representing the $375,000 scholarship fund established in Sharen’s fathers name: Doyle E Burns.

“Sharen and I both have benefitted tremendously because of higher education. We want to make those same opportunities available to the people in Montrose County and on the Western Slope,” said Jim Branscome. “Education and economic development go together. If we are going to have a dynamic future in western Colorado, we are going to have to increase the level of educational attainment.”

Burns was formerly the manager of the 87,000-acre Blanca Trinchera Ranch in Fort Garland, manager of the San Luis Valley Potato Growers Association and the long-time executive director of the National Potato Council in Washington, DC.

Guests at today’s event helped themselves to a slice of a potato-shaped birthday cake and each was given a five pound bag of potatoes.

This is the Potato shaped Birthday cake to celebrate the 93rd birthday of Doyle E Burns at CMU-Montrose Tuesday.

A comprehensive university located in the center of western Colorado, Colorado Mesa University provides exceptional educational opportunities on a state-of-the-art campus. As western Colorado’s largest university, Colorado Mesa serves students on its main campus in Grand Junction, its satellite campus in Montrose, its community college, Western Colorado Community College, and via online offerings.

Colorado Mesa University serves as the primary intellectual and cultural center in western Colorado and promotes the exchange of ideas that are of regional, national and international importance. Founded in 1925, it’s a dynamic university enrolling more than 9,000 students at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels.

Sharen and Jim Branscome join Scholarship winner Leia Edson and CMU-Montrose Campus Director Joey Montoya. Edson received a $3500 scholarship.

Doyle E. Burns was born January 29, 1920 in Oklahoma. He was one of 11 children and became a farmer, just as his father had been.  His parents met when their families arrived in Oklahoma to homestead following the 1892 Land Rush. After they married, they found earning a living farming in Oklahoma was precarious so, in 1909, they traveled by covered wagon to southeastern Colorado where they eventually settled. That too, proved precarious, and they eventually settled back in Oklahoma.

In 1954, Doyle and his family moved to Fort Garland, CO, where Doyle managed the 87,000-acre Blanca Trinchera Ranch.  In 1960, the family moved to Monte Vista, CO, where Doyle worked as manager of the San Luis Valley Potato Association.  In 1964, he became Executive Director of the National Potato Council in Washington, DC.

After passage in 1971 of the Potato Research and Promotion Act that created the National Potato Promotion Board, which Doyle was instrumental in creating, the National Potato Council’s offices were moved to Denver. Doyle worked there until he retired in 1977.  He moved to Montrose in 1980.

Doyle’s father had a fourth grade education and his mother completed eighth grade. Doyle went to college for one quarter. His commitment to education is apparent in his children and grandchildren.  All of his four children completed college, one with an advanced degree. Six of his seven grandchildren have college degrees, two with advanced degrees and two more working on advanced degrees. He has two greatgrandchildren.