Bob Burns Leaves Legacy of Service & Dedication to Community

Bob Burns Leaves Legacy of Service & Dedication to Community

Dr. Bob L. Burns, 80, passed away on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Magnolia, Arkansas. He was born on March 20, 1944, in Hope, Arkansas, and raised in Patmos, Arkansas.

Bob previously served as Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Emeritus, and President of Farmers Bank & Trust. He began with the bank in 1980 and was named CEO and President in 1983. Under his leadership, he helped guide Farmers Bank & Trust from a single location in Magnolia, Arkansas, with $30 million in total assets to its current asset total of $2.8 billion and 34 locations across Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In all, Bob spent 44 years with Farmers Bank & Trust and served as Chairman Emeritus until his passing. After retiring in 2021, he remained active on the boards of Farmers Bank & Trust and its parent company, Magnolia Banking Corporation. He also hired and worked closely with most of the current bank leadership.

“Though Bob’s health had declined in recent years, he had hoped to get better and make visits to all of our branches,” said Chris Gosnell, current CEO and President of Farmers Bank & Trust. “Bob even called and visited with a couple of our executive officers by phone a few days before his passing. His love for the bank and its employees was unwavering.”

Before his tenure at Farmers Bank & Trust, Bob’s career included several distinguished positions. He was a former School Administrator at Horatio, Arkansas, and Mineral Springs, Arkansas, and served in the U.S. Army as a rescue pilot during the Vietnam War. He retired as a Colonel.

During his military career, Bob served with the 4th Infantry Division. From 1967 to 1968, he served as a Captain in the MSC (Medical Service Corps) where he flew medical evacuation missions as a helicopter pilot in Pleiku, RVN. His military awards included a Bronze Star, Presidential Citation, Cross of Gallantry, and Distinguished Service Medal.

Bob’s military education included time at the JFK Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; the National Defense University in Washington D.C.; and the Academy of Health Sciences in San Antonio, Texas. His last military assignment was with HQ US Central Command as a staff officer for Psychological Operations in Tampa, Florida.

Throughout his banking career, Bob remained deeply committed to his community. Demonstrating this belief, he served on the boards and held leadership roles in the following organizations: Southwest Arkansas Water District in Texarkana; Arkansas State Police Foundation; Arkansas State Police Commission; Arkansas State Police Retirement System; FBI Little Rock Citizens Academy Alumni Association; U.S. Secret Service National Task Force for Cyber Security; Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees; Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Economics Arkansas; Arkansas Yellow Ribbon Task Force; Arkansas Bankers Association; Rural Development Authority; Magnolia Rotary Club; Magnolia Chamber of Commerce; Accelerate Arkansas; Task Force Committee for Revision of the State Banking Code; Arkansas School Study Council; State Board of Higher Education Foundation; Southern Arkansas University Business Advisory Board; Columbia County Industrial Development Corporation; and was a Business Executive of the Year finalist for Arkansas Business Magazine in 2005.

Bob was also instrumental in creating community events throughout the region, including the Farmers Bank & Trust Speaker Series in Magnolia, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, as well as the FBI Luncheon in Hope and Benton, Arkansas.

Bob was a graduate of Henderson State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He attended graduate school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, earning a Master’s and an EdD in Education. He received his financial education from the School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, along with the ABA Schools of Commercial Lending, Compliance, and Investments.

In 2022, he was the recipient of the Archie Monroe Lifetime Achievement Award from the Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. 

Bob leaves behind his wife of 51 years, Molly Burns. The couple had three children: Robert Burns, Elizabeth Burns Anderson, and Rebecca Gosnell.

“Bob was a great man, and he will be dearly missed,” said Chris Gosnell. “We are all blessed by the legacy he leaves.”


For obituary and funeral service information, please follow this link: https://www.lewisfuneralhome.biz/obituaries/Dr-Robert-Lee-Bob-Burns?obId=31848385