Former Mercer sheriff Kenneth Burns dies

January 09, 2004

HARRODSBURG - Walter Kenneth Burns, 77, a former Mercer County sheriff, died Thursday at his home.

Mercer County Sheriff Ralph Anderson, who took office in 1992 when Burns resigned at age 65 with one year remaining on his term, called Burns his mentor.

"Even after he retired, he kept up with what was going on," said Anderson. "He visited our offices quite a bit, and he was always available to me for advice. I've lost a mentor and true friend."

Anderson said Burns used his considerable people skills and cool head to great advantage.

"He had a country-type of flair that appealed to people all over the county," said Anderson. "He had a good reputation as an investigator, and his easy manner drew people to confide in him. He was a fair, Christian person, and one of the most level-headed people I've ever known."


Anderson said he owes any success he may have had in his career to his former boss.

"He gave me my start. He's the reason I am what I am today," said Anderson. "He was a mentor to me, and a trusted advisor and confidante.

"He will be missed by this county and everyone in the law enforcement community."

Former Boyle and Mercer Commonwealth's Attorney William Barnett said Burns' easygoing manner was one of his greatest attributes.

"Kenneth had the kind of personality that made everyone trust him," he said. "He had such a calming influence on people. He could charm a defendent into being happy to go to jail.

"He was a delight to work with, always cooperative, accomodating," said Barnett. "Underneath that folksy charm was an excellent sheriff who made my job much, much easier."

Burns was the widower of Pauline Morris Burns. Arrangements are incomplete at Ransdell Funeral Chapel.

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