David M. Burns, 84, a former Foreign Service officer who later became an executive with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and who also founded a jazz band, died May 13 at Capital Caring Hospice in Arlington County.
He had an intracranial hemorrhage, his son Patrick Burns said.
Mr. Burns joined the U.S. Information Agency in 1955 and had postings in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Mali, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and what is now Zimbabwe.
After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1977, Mr. Burns became director of a project exploring climate change at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He retired a second time in 1990.
In 1972, Mr. Burns founded the Hot Mustard Jazz Band. He was the group’s leader, trombonist and singer. The popular local band performed swing music and performed at the Kennedy Center and the British Embassy.
David Mitchell Burns was born in Pineville, Ky., and came to Washington at age 15. As a teenager, he worked as an elevator operator at the U.S. Capitol. He served as an Air Force cryptographer in the late 1940s.
He was a 1953 graduate of Princeton University and received a Fulbright grant to study in Salzburg, Austria.
Mr. Burns was a member of the National Book Critics Circle and wrote freelance book reviews for a number of publications, including The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
He was the author of “Gateway: Dr. Thomas Walker and the Opening of Kentucky” in 2000 and “Quests,” a self-published memoir, in 2002.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Sandra Dunlop Burns of Washington; two sons, David A. Burns of Haddonfield, N.J., and Patrick Burns of Arlington; and five grandchildren.
— Megan McDonough