Wherever Michele “Mickey” Burns went, she would pick up a rock that caught her eye. She would often bring the rock home and attach a note to it for her to remember where she had found it.
“She’d be walking on a beach and see something really pretty. The rock would remind her of the time that she had been there,” said Roberta Everett, Burns’ first cousin who grew up with her in Dartmouth.
As children, Everett remembers “Mickey” as her quiet, polite cousin who loved singing at home with her siblings and in the choir at Smith Mills Christian Congregational Church in Dartmouth.
“I don’t believe that I ever heard her say a swear word — ever, in her whole life,” Everett said. “She was always very low key.”
Everett said she had the opportunity to speak with “Mickey” not too long before she contracted COVID-19 last year. Burns died from the disease on June 12, 2020, at CareOne of New Bedford after a period of declining health. She was 75.
Though she was quiet and private by temperament, Burns was a friendly person who was well known and admired by countless customers during her years working at Citizens and Bay Bank branches in Greater New Bedford.
“She knew pretty much every customer who walked through the door. They’d even bring her rocks from their own vacations,” said Margaret Bergeron, Burns’ niece by marriage who had a close relationship with her in recent years.
Born in New Bedford, Burns grew up in Dartmouth before settling in Fairhaven as a young adult. She was devoted to her mother and cared for her in her later years. Burns never married, but enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.
“She would do anything for anybody,” Bergeron said. “You could be a stranger and she would be talking to you, and the next thing you know, she’d buy you lunch. She was like that.”
When they were kids, Everett — who described herself as “the rowdy one” in the family — said she and “Mickey” would spend summers with their grandparents on Cape Cod, often accompanying their grandfather on early-morning clamming excursions.
“She and I would just be chasing him down the road at 5 in the morning, putting our coats on, saying, ‘Wait grandpa, we’re coming with you!’ ” Everett said.
Burns loved the ocean, art, music, singing in the choir at St. Jacques Church in Taunton, and traveling. She even lived in California for a time. Before leaving for the West Coast, Burns helped her cousin land a job.
“I had spent hours doing the resume,” Everett said. “I walked in, met the boss. He took the resume in his hands, folded it in his pocket, and asked, ‘When can you start and how much do you want an hour?’ I told him I had worked really hard on that resume. He said, ‘Mickey told me you can do the job.’ That was good enough for him.”
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