John Stuart Burlison of North Bethesda, Md., known to many as “Happy,” died of complications from ampullary cancer on March 18, 2020, according to his spouse, Ron Dagani.
John was born in Moscow, Idaho, on March 4, 1951. He attended high school in Potlatch, Idaho, and later graduated from the University of Idaho in Moscow with a B.S. degree in Speech Communication. He also studied at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.
John began his professional career as a technical editor and writer at Battelle-Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Wash. In 1983 he moved to Washington, DC, where he met Ron that same year. The two have resided together in Maryland since 1984.
John worked for several government contractors in the Washington, DC area, most notably Computer Sciences Corp. and General Sciences Corp. He managed computer documentation for development groups in both companies and was active in the DC chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, serving a term as chapter president. John worked at Fannie Mae from 1997 until his retirement in 2007.
In the 1990s, John served for many years on the board of the Free State Justice Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT civil rights. He served two years as the co-chair of the organization, which played a pivotal role in the passage of anti-discrimination legislation in the Maryland Assembly.
At the beginning of the 21st century, John took up square dancing with DC Lambda Squares, an LGBT square dance club in the nation’s capital. Square dancing became a passion. He served on the DC Lambda Squares board for nine years, in just about every board position. He danced with square dance clubs in suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.
John also was an avid cyclist. He and a couple of friends have taken extended bicycle trips in the Appalachians, around Florida, up the East Coast from Key West to Halifax, and throughout central Europe. In addition to the cycling, he enjoyed sailing in the Caribbean, and he also trekked in Nepal. He loved to travel and was sometimes on the road for weeks at a time.
John created the Vernon Burlison Memorial Fund in honor of his father at the University of Idaho. The fund supports LGBT programs at the university.
In the early 1970s, John was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was excommunicated in 1981, but reconciled to his faith in the last decade of his life. He attended the Kensington Ward in the Washington, DC Stake.
John was the son of Vernon Henry Burlison and Prudence May Barrett. His step-mother was Dorothy Miller Clancy Finn Burlison. He married Susan Comstock Mauery in 1973. That marriage ended in divorce. He married Ron Dagani in 2013 on the 30th anniversary of their meeting. John was pre-deceased by his brother, Vernon Burlison, Jr. In addition to Ron, John is survived by his siblings (Grace Burlison Wallace, Frank Burlison, Katherine Clancy, Stephen Burlison, Patricia Finn, and John Michael Finn), his four children (Timothy Mauery, Sarah Mauery Foutz, Vernon Mauery, and Mary Mauery Haeberle), and twenty-three grandchildren. John leaves behind many people who cherished him, including family members, LGBT friends, square dancers, and fellow saints in the Kensington Ward.
A celebration of his life will be scheduled at a later date.