IN MEMORIAM: David Campbell Burnham

by Jane Ahrens

David Campbell Burnham, 85, of Rehoboth, MA, and Fishers Island, NY, died in his sleep on Thursday morning, June 5th; his beloved wife, Anne Webb Burnham, died the evening before, June 4th. Mr. Burnham was born to Louise (Campbell) and Rufus B. Burnham in Larchmont, NY, and attended Loomis School, Yale University (BA) and University of Massachusetts.

Mr. Burnham was a life-long educator, starting as an English and Bible teacher and counselor at Mount Hermon School for Boys (later Northfield Mount Hermon School), where he met Anne, a math teacher. He later moved to Loomis-Chaffee School as vice-president for academic affairs, then to Moses Brown School as headmaster. Mr. Burnham retired from Moses Brown after 16 years and accepted successive one-year appointments as an English teacher in Japan and interim headmaster at St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, RI, and Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY. He then helped found a charter school in Providence, the Paul Cuffee School, which merged his love for education with his passion for all things maritime. He was particularly proud that Paul Cuffee is graduating its first class from high school this month.

Fishers 2010
Fishers 2010

Mr. Burnham was an avid sailor who won the national championship of the Bullseye Class several times; he served as president of the Bullseye Class Association, as commodore of the Fishers Island Yacht Club, and as chair of the board of trustees of the Herreshoff Marine Museum. He was also on the board of the Providence Branch of the English-Speaking Union and was the long-time coordinator of its Shakespeare Competition. He was a devoted member of the Community Church of Providence and Union Chapel (Fishers Island), where he sometimes guest-preached.

Dave and Anne Burnham leave behind three sons, Paul H. Burnham (Karen Birck) of Wilton, CT, John S. Burnham (Rachel Balaban) of Middletown, RI, and Stephen T. Burnham (Krysia) of Newton, MA, and a daughter, Louise Burnham Packard of Lexington, MA, as well as ten grandchildren: Elizabeth, David, Isabel, Olivia, Sophia, John, Margaux, Samuel, Daniel, and Anne.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate the Burnhams at 11am on June 21st, at the Central Congregational Church of Providence. Burial will be private. Donations in the Burnhams’ memory may be made to the Anne & David Burnham Scholarship Fund at Northfield Mount Hermon School, 1 Lamplighter Way, Mount Hermon, MA 01354; to the David Burnham Maritime Fund, Paul Cuffee School, 459 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908; or to the Community Church of Providence, 372 Wayland Ave, Providence, RI 02906. Condolences may be left online at or c/o the Community Church of Providence.

Paul Cuffee School Remembers Founding Board President David Burnham and his wife Anne

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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