Eileen Burns

Eileen Burns

Those who knew Eileen E. Burns will tell you she died the way she chose to live: dramatically.

The longtime Hoxie House volunteer died January 4 at age 82 after going into cardiac arrest while driving west on Route 6A in the area of Crow Farm just before 10 AM, police said. Ms. Burns’s car struck a guardrail before crossing the street, hitting the former Country Acres Motel sign and crashing through the gate of the cemetery, where it came to rest over several gravestones.

Sandwich police and paramedics were called to the crash scene and found Ms. Burns unresponsive and without a pulse. She was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

“She had a good life and while some may believe otherwise, I thought ‘what a great way to go!’” said Robert King, a close friend of Ms. Burns. “No suffering, just driving scenic Route 6A and poof, gone!”

Ms. Burns was the head docent—or the museum curator, as she liked to call herself—of the Hoxie House for 16 years until the pandemic closed the facility, recreation director Guy Boucher said.

“The Hoxie House was a pretty important place to her and a place she had a lot of passion for,” Mr. Boucher said. “Her husband passed a number of years ago—Jimmy was the love of her life; she called him her Clark Kent—and when he passed, she started working at the Hoxie House to fill the time and give her a place and purpose and that was kind of her next love after Jimmy.”

Between her high-pitched voice and her authentic Boston accent, she was a pleasure to listen to, Mr. King said.

“I’m sure that tourists were equally delighted to hear ‘the real thing’ when she spoke,” he continued.

Unintentionally commemorating her spirit and her passion for the Hoxie House, Ms. Burns filmed a virtual tour of the home during the height of the pandemic for tourists and locals to partake in, Mr. Boucher said.

“She brought her own style and sense of joy to the Hoxie House and carried a lot of institutional knowledge that she liked to present to the public,” Mr. Boucher said. “These are big shoes to fill for sure. We are all heartbroken.”

When the Sandwich Recreation Department shared the news of her sudden death on Facebook, the announcement was met with comments of joy, praise, love, admiration and shared memories of her life and the joy she brought to those she met.

“Sandwich has lost a true gem,” Town Clerk Taylor White wrote. “Eileen’s infectious smile and positive attitude always brightened the room. She truly lived life to the fullest and we will never forget her.”

Her neighbors would describe her as someone who could talk to anyone and everyone, and she always remembered birthdays and holidays, Sandwich resident and Enterprise columnist Marya Caristi said, noting she loved the neighborhood kids and would spend time at the bus stop with them before school.

“She just owned the room when she walked in. If she didn’t know you, you’d know her by the end of the conversation,” Ms. Caristi said. “The way she passed away was definitely shocking. It was dramatic like she was.”

Ms. Burns was struggling with her health for about 15 years, Ms. Caristi said, but she always bounced back, remained positive and went about living her life to the fullest.

“She was just so thoughtful, very compassionate and thoughtful,” Ms. Caristi said. “She is a person whose life we should celebrate—we can mourn her, but we need to celebrate her life. She is definitely a person who really lived her life.”

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