Former Chapter President, John Stuart Burlison

Obit photo of John Burlison
John Stuart Burlison, who served as chapter president 1985-1986 and 1991-1992.

We are saddened to learn of the death of John Stuart Burlison (March 4, 1951 ~ March 18, 2020, age 69), who died of complications from ampullary cancer according to his spouse, Ron Dagani. To many of his friends, he was known as “Happy”.

I knew John when he was a contractor working on a documentation project I led at IBM. He was a very wise and kindly fellow who often stopped to chat when he turned in a draft to me. We spoke about our backgrounds and when he found out I’d lived in Salt Lake City for eleven years going to high school and the University of Utah but was not a Mormon, we started discussing the lifestyle and beliefs of the LDS and how the Gentiles (non-LDS) lived and worked together. He said he’d been born and raised in Idaho, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), got married, had children, and then came out as gay. That did not sit well with the LDS church at that time and he got divorced and excommunicated. This was a very traumatic experience for him and he was understandably bitter about how he had been treated. But he picked himself back up and moved to Maryland. (I don’t remember why he chose Maryland–perhaps to get as far away from the Intermountain West as he could.) Our discussions led him to lend me his copy of a great book by Orson Scott Card, “The Seventh Son”, that took place in an alternative American frontier where people were born with special gifts called “the knack”. (The main character, Alvin, had a powerful special knack because he was the seventh son of the seventh son.) The book weaves in some American history, some witchcraft, some magic, some religion, some humor, and is a bit of a morality play, which all resonates with the experience of living in the Intermountain West. I will never forget that book and I will never forget John.

John was an active and avid member of The Society for Technical Communication and served as the chapter president twice in 1985-1986 and 1991-1992. Besides trying to push me to give a presentation to the Washington, DC chapter, he was also very active in the LGBTQ community and supported programs of the LGBTQ students at the University of Idaho. He co-founded the original LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County. He was a natural leader and loved cycling, traveling, and square dancing.

His spouse, Ron, wrote a wonderful obituary for him that fills in many more details where I was amazed to find that his four children gave him twenty-three grandchildren. You can read all about Happy at

A celebration of his life will be scheduled at a later date.

To plant a tree in memory of John, order a memorial tree from the Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care Inc. Store. A new memorial tree will be planted in memory of John in the area of greatest need. This will be done according to the planting schedule of the American Forests Organization.

Viqui Dill is a new STC Associate Fellow!

Photo of Viqui Dill
Viqui Dill

Congratulations to chapter member, Viqui Dill, who is a newly elected Associate Fellow of STC. Viqui joined STC in December 2007 and has been an active volunteer for the STC Washington, DC chapter since 2012 as the chapter's Social Media Manager. Viqui earned a Distinguished Chapter Service Award (DCSA) in 2013. Her tutorials and online help projects at work have earned an Award for Merit in our chapter competition. Viqui has served as a Director-at-Large on the chapter's Administrative Council 2012-2020. In 2014, she served as the Second Vice President. She is an enthusiastic booster of STC, speaking often to other chapters and in conference sessions about the benefits of the profession and social media.

Viqui has served the Society as a member of the Community Affairs Committee (CAC).

We are extremely proud of Viqui and all that she does for the chapter and the Society. Congratulations!

Get Viqui's contact information and extended bio on her chapter biography page: Viqui Dill

For information about the rank of STC Associate Fellow, see

We Mourn the Passing of Austin T. Brown, Former STC and STC WDCB President

Headshot of Austin T. Brown
Austin T. Brown

Austin Thomas Brown, past STC WDCB Chapter President (1981-1982), Director-Sponsor of STC’s Region 2 (1982-1986), STC President (1988-1989), and STC Fellow, passed away peacefully on March 21, 2019 at the age of 86.

In the 1990s, our chapter renamed its high school science writing contest to honor Austin, who had managed the contest for many years. The contest was first started in 1964 and provided an award and scholarship money to the top three winners of a competition open only to high school students in the Washington, DC area for the best technical papers. Austin joined STC in 1967 and took a special interest in the competition. We now call it Austin T. Brown Technical Communication Award, though is currently without a manager. We hope a new volunteer who is interested in managing a student competition will step up in the future. In lieu of this, the chapter began giving awards in 2009 for the best student entry in our Technical Communication Competition.

Not only did Austin provide exceptional leadership to STC and the Washington, DC-Baltimore chapter (then just the Washington, DC chapter) over many years, but his family named our chapter as the suggested recipient of financial donations in lieu of flowers in his obituary. Please read the obituary in his funeral program to learn about Austin’s illustrious career and fascinating life, and see several photos of him and his wonderful family.

We mourn the passing of Austin T. Brown and are thankful for his many contributions to our chapter and to the profession of technical communication.