Dan Burns enrolled at SUNY Brockport after graduating from high school in 1964, but dropped out after a year and a half. He then worked in a tin can factory, at a funeral home as an apprentice, and at an Ossabaw writers and artists colony as a maintenance worker, before returning to Brockport and completing his degree in History in 1979. He student taught in Rio de Janeiro through Brockport, then taught in an American school in Asuncion, Paraguay for four years. He then worked at the Lakeside hospital, Lakeside nursing home, and as environmental services director for the Mariette Corporation before retiring. As of the fall of 2019, he now volunteers at the link center at the Brockport community library and at the Emily Knapp museum, and takes classes at Brockport through the lifelong learning program.