Ellen Bree Burns, 95, Ret. U.S. District Court Judge, passed away on June 3, 2019 at the St. Raphael Campus of Yale-New Haven Hospital. Born in New Haven on December 13, 1923, she was a daughter of the late Vincent T. and Mildred (Bannon) Bree. Judge Burns was the widow of Joseph P. Burns. She is survived by her daughter, Sister Mary Ellen Burns of Hamden; her sons, Joseph Bree Burns of Hamden and Kevin James Burns and his wife Cynthia of East Hartford; grandchildren, Michelle Pigott, Colleen E. Burns, Joseph P. Burns II, Kyle V. Burns, Kory K. Burns, Sarah Grace Burns and Jessica E. Burns; great-grandchildren, Liam and Ava Pigott; nieces, Kathleen Ramunni and Ellen Nosel, and nephew Paul V. Ramunni. Ellen was predeceased by her sisters, Barbara Bree and Marilyn Bree Ramunni. A resident of Hamden most of her life, she was a graduate of Albertus Magnus College and Yale Law School. After 25 years in the state's Legislative Commissioners' Office, she had a long career as a State and Federal Judge, named Connecticut 's first female Superior Court Judge in 1974, and the first female Federal Judge in the state in 1978; she was also the first female Chief Judge of the federal District of Connecticut. She retired in 2015 at the age of 91. Friends may visit with her family at Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden on Friday, June 7 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday June 8 at 9:00 a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 2819 Whitney Ave., Hamden. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Judge Burns's memory may be made to Apostle Immigrant Services, 81 Saltonstall Ave., New Haven, CT 06513 or to the Fund for Albertus, c/o Albertus Magnus College Office of Advancement, 700 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT, 06511.

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  1. I am so sorry for your loss. She sounded like an amazing lady. My thoughts are with the entire family. May your memories live on forever. –From Laurie Hiscock and Family

  2. Judge Burns was a kind, considerate, and fair lady…always with a lovely smile on her face. We are sure she will be missed by her family and friends. May you find peace and comfort knowing she is reunited with her husband in Heaven. Rest easy Judge. ….Agnes & Bill Beckert; St Joan of Arc alumni

  3. My deepest condolences to the entire Burns family. SrMaryEllen Burns, my sincerest sympathies. Your Mom was an amazing woman, a trailblazer and dynamic lady. A lovely neighbor and now, I know she is with my Mom and Dad who had such tremendous respect and love for her – as I do for you – she lives on through you. God bless. With love, JoAnne (Mancinelli) Curtin.

  4. To her family, from a member of her court family:

    I am forever grateful for Judge Burns showing me the way to be a lawyer, a woman lawyer, a mentor, and a working parent while balancing a career. I knew it would be a great gig when I got to pet her dog while I interviewed! She would tell me to go home at a reasonable hour to be with my young child, if the work didn’t demand otherwise. She ate lunch with all of us every day, sharing life, lunch, and stories with us. She demonstrated grace and professionalism in every moment on the bench. It was the ultimate honor and privilege of my career to serve as her law clerk from 1983-85. She inspired me every day. With love to you all- from Carrie and Glenn Kaas and family.

  5. Our most sincere condolences to Joe and family on the loss of your mother and grandmother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Bob, Julie and Alexandra Nattrass

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