The Death of a Friend

The Death of a Friend November 13, 2009
Steve "Bobo" Burns

A longtime friend of mine, Bobo Burns, died last night after a long struggle with diabetes and strokes.  Bobo was an amazing man who was more committed to youth ministry than anyone I’d ever met.  Having struggled with addiction in junior high and high school, he went through treatment and spent the next 30 years completely available to any kids in Edina, Minnesota who needed a listening ear.  He was a big part of what I consider to be the Golden Age of youth ministry in Edina.

Bobo worked for a few churches, and he often struggled to make ends meet.  I remember one church that paid him so little that he couldn’t afford car insurance and sold his car.  Instead, he rode a scooter.  In winter.  In Minnesota.

Countless kids were blessed by him at countless camps, retreat, and youth group meetings.  I was blessed by him, even as my own ministry ambitions occasionally ran roughshod over him.  He was rarely less than graceful.

I led dozens of camps and retreats with him, and he’ll definitely be remembered by many for this, his signature, the Boogaloo:

[UPDATE: Beautiful pics of Bobo by Matt Blum.

Thanks everyone for the comments.  Keep them coming.

The family has announced that there will be a reviewal at 7pm at Washburn-McCreavy in Edina on Monday, and a memorial service at 1pm on Tuesday at Colonial Church.]

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  • Mike

    thanks for sharing. I didn’t know Bobo but your memories of him and this video made my day

  • Tony,

    I was a good friend of Bobo’s in his later years of life. He would speak kindly of you and your ministry . He would often tell stories of the good ol’ days of edina youth ministry. Thanks for your nice post about him.

  • i’m so sorry, Tony, for your loss. You are in my thoughts today. Take care.


  • Hi Tony,

    Beautiful eulogy to a man we all trusted and respected for his unique niche in outreach youth ministry. He will be missed by many! We praise and thank God for his faithful ministry!

  • Anne

    Hey Tony
    Bobo was a name from past. I heard about his passing so i googled and your blog came up. Thank you for your post and the video. Watching the video took me immedately back to a place I had long forgotten. Evenings at colonial church with Jeff Lindsay… WOW. Thanks for bringing back those memories and the memories of boogaloo with Bobo Burns. May we all look forward to singing “what’s that you say” with him on the other side.

  • i did not know bobo but what a blessing he was the girl standing behind him with the wisconsin t-shirt on was my 9 year old daughters counsler this year in spooner wi for a week ! it is so great to see such a powerful man that made such an impact in so many kids lives! blessings and honor power and glory !

  • josh buxton


    It has been many years since I thought of Bobo or the boogaloo. Thank you for posting this and bringing back so many great memories.

  • Courtney

    I just heard the news of Bobo’s passing from a friend. Your blog came up first in my google attempt at finding something written about Bobo. My memories of Bobo from Colonial, Camp Pyro and Bobo’s Bunch will last forever.
    When I’m with my family, we sometimes get a kick out of doing “high’s and low’s” just like Bobo would do. And every now and then, I’ll reinact the Boogaloo to make people laugh (no one else in my family has ever witnessed the Boogaloo). So then, we began saying Coco’s bunch (short for my name) which stuck with us all. A few years ago, my first nephew arrived and right off the bat, we decided I would be Aunt Coco! So Bobo’s spirit will definitely live on in our family and never be forgotten!
    He was always so positive and had such a big heart!
    Thanks for the post on your blog – it’s been fun reading what everyone else’s memories are of Bobo. The video rocks!
    Hope you are doing well,
    Courtney (Brown) Wells

  • Jill O’Toole

    What a beautiful tribute to Bobo. Your words sum up beautifully what a wonderful man Bobo was to so many of us “kids” in Edina. The youth groups were what shaped all of us to be who we are today. The Boogaloo…wow! Such memories!! Bobo was a true inspiration to all…he will be missed and forever remembered.
    Wishing you well~ Jill (Slade) O’Toole

  • Laura Smith

    I’m sorry, Tony. You might enjoy these photos of him:

  • Kathleen (Vaa) Annala

    Bobo was one of my closest friends throughout high school (and I graduated in ’95). He was an amazing person. I’d skip school, swing by his office and pick him up and we’d drive around, or go to Perkins, smoke and talk for hours…I think his faith kept me sane throughout EHS. He and I fell out of touch over the years…the strangest thing ever was that last night I talked to my husband for hours about Bobo, reminiscing and descibing who he was and that I missed him in my life. Today I found out he died last night. He is missed.

  • Tom Matson

    This was wonderful. What beautiful words and memories. I had written my response on his caring bridge site before I came to yours, but I actually shared a memory that you I and laughed about a few years ago. Thank you for your words and your impact you continue to have on so many.
    In His Grip,

  • Angie

    This video brings back such great memories of the Boogaloo at Pyro. My thoughts and prayers are with Bobo’s friends and family. What a great man.

  • I remember Bobo from Summerfest when I worked at TreeHouse. He was very cool. Watching the Boogaloo brought back good memories of him. Very real guy- very passionate about Christ and kids. He will indeed be missed.

    Peace to Steve’s family. I will be unable to make the memorial due to previous commitments.

  • I met Bobo for the first time at Colonial. You introduced us. He was the most relaxed down to year youth worker I had ever met.

  • Awesome vid tony…He is at home with Father….

    I love this game, we did this with kids in west philly, spurcehill school for the summer camp, they loved it.

  • Allison Wiegand

    My sister informed me that Bobo had passed away. I found your blog when looking up his obituary. Thanks so much for sharing with people the amazing guy that Bobo was. I rememember back to Camp Pyro what an amazing, caring soul Bobo was and how his zest for life and positivity impacted me and everyone around him. He really did make the world a better place and will be missed by all who were lucky enough to have met him, thanks again for sharing and the famous bugaloo video! Hope all is well with you.

    -Allison Wiegand

  • Ross Oakes Mueller

    I heard about Bobo’s passing and felt tremendously sad. Then I found my way here, watched his Boogaloo video and thought, “If this guy could pull off the Booglooo for decades-on-end in THIS world, with TEENAGERS, just think of the stuff he’s pulling off when the earthly gloves come off.” I can’t wait to worship with him again. What an amazing gift from God he was.

  • Jay Landin

    I remember the Screaming Buffalo Band. I remember those gold drums of his. And I remember his face when we played together. Good memories and a good man. Damn good drummer too!

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  • Bobo’s memorial service was recorded and posted for anyone who missed it.

  • Alyssia (Lester) Rodriguez

    Bobo touched my life at Camp Pyro and Colonial Church… I still think about him all the time, and just learned today of his passing. After 25 years, I still remember his catch-phrase: Bobo-ba-dot-dot-skiddley-dot-dot-da-bob0!