- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2007

Katherine Withers Burns, 95, Army wife

Katherine Zalesky Withers Burns, an Army wife, died Aug. 18 at the Fairfax, a retirement community at Fort Belvoir. She was 95.

The daughter of a Navy medical officer, Mrs. Burns was born at the naval hospital in Charleston, S.C., on March 3, 1912. She spent her first birthday in Shanghai, where her father, Capt. William J. Zalesky, was the medical officer aboard a gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River. She grew up living at naval hospitals and Navy yards. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

While spending a summer with her parents in the Navy Yard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, she met Army Lt. George Kenyon Withers, whom she married in 1931 in Honolulu. She accompanied him to assignments in the U.S., the Philippines and the Panama Canal Zone. Col. Withers retired after 30 years with the Army Corps of Engineers. He died in 1959.

Six years later, she married Army Col. Donald Sylvester Burns in Alexandria. He had been the best man at her first wedding. Col. Burns retired in 1954 after 34 years with the Corps of Engineers. He died in 1983.

While living in the Washington area, Mrs. Burns was a Cub Scout den mother in Alexandria in the early 1940s. She was a member of the Alexandria Committee of the National Society of Colonial Dames in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a member of the Jamestown Society through John Rolfe, a first settler. She served as chaplain for the Mount Vernon Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. As a member of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, she served on the Altar Guild, and was a lections reader and in charge of assigning others to read lessons each Sunday.

Survivors include five sons, retired Army Maj. Gen. George Kenyon Withers Jr. of Alexandria, retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Zalesky Withers of Fort Collins, Colo., retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey Dismukes Withers of Winter Park, Fla., Peter Bolling Withers of Cumming, Ga., and retired Army Col. Benjamin Guy Withers of Alexandria; a stepson, Donald Andrew Burns of Bow, N.H.; a stepdaughter, Rosemary Burns Kutchman, of Osmond Beach, Fla.; a sister, Mrs. John Victor Smith of La Jolla, Calif.; 16 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

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