Born in Rockford, Illinois, daughter of Iven and Evelyn Toppe, Louise Burns passed away after a bried illness on December 5, 2022, in Berkeley. She attended Augsburg College in St. Paul, Minnesota, the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and graduated with an honors degree in occupational therapy in 1963 from the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago.
In 1964, she married Thomas Burns, also of Rockford, moving to New York City where they lived for two years. Tom’s career with Chevron took them to Germany for eight years, where their two sons were born. In 1974, the family moved to Berkeley.
California offered Louise the opportunity to pursue her lifelong interest in sports and fitness. Louise participated in many endurance events, including long-distance cycling, cross-country skiing, and road races. She ran 23 marathons, including 4 Boston Marathons, the first time in one of the early years that women were officially invited. She finished third in the 1976 Pike Peak Marathon. In 1977 Louise was the fastest woman in the Double Dipsea, and in 1979 she won one of the coveted Dipsea T-Shirts by finishing 34 th . She was co-editor of the DSE Runners newsletter.
She worked as an occupational therapist in Minneapolis, New York City, and Frankfurt, Germany. Her interest in women’s sports led her to join a friend in developing Women on the Run, a San Francisco based women’s fitness and apparel company. As vice-president, Louise was in charge of developing fitness guidelines and organizing a series of all-women’s road races in cities across the country.
After Women on the Run was sold, Louise joined Hero Arts, Inc. As executive vice- president, she was instrumental in building the company into the nation’s leading manufacturer of hand-made rubber stamps and stamping accessories. Under her leadership as editor, Hero Arts catalogues won 3 Gold and 4 Silver Awards in annual Catalogue Age Awards Competitions.
Two books by San Francisco interior designer John Wheatman feature photographs of the interesting changes she made in her Bay Area home.
Mourning her loss are her loving husband Tom, sons Erik (Maria João) of Lisbon, Portugal and Michael (Cori) of San Francisco, grandsons Tomás, Francisco, and Milo, granddaughters Carolina and Maxine, and other family members.
Services will be private. Her ashes will be distributed on Donner Summit and her favorite bird, the Mountain Chickadee, will sing.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Truckee Donner Land Trust, PO Box 8816, Truckee, California 96162