Firefighter With an Artistic Side

Dec. 20, 2001

His fellow firefighters never razzed John Burnside about writing poems and songs.

Most didn't know he nurtured those talents.

Burnside caught plenty of grief, though, for being a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan. After all, he grew up and worked in Manhattan.

Burnside, 36, was a seven-year veteran of the fire department. He was preparing for the lieutenant's exam. Before becoming a firefighter, he worked three years as a police officer.

He met his wife Sandra in Central Park about 10 years ago. He was on-duty. She was roller-blading. A friend started the conversation. They were married for five years.

Burnside taught himself to play guitar, both electric and acoustic. He wrote his own songs and poems.

But he rarely played in public and seldom shared his writings.

"My husband was such a quiet soul," Sandra said. "He didn't just put his talents out there for the world."

--Fred Carroll (Daily Press)