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'Blogger Bob,' Butler County Man Behind Popular TSA Instagram, Dies

curtis bob burns
A screen shot from a TSA video featuring Burns that looks at the top 10 most unsual items found in luggage by TSA agents in 2017.

Updated: 4:55 p.m.

Curtis Burns, the West Chester resident behind the TSA's popular Instagram account, died Friday. He was 48. 

"It is with heavy hearts that we confirm the passing of our friend and colleague Curtis 'Blogger Bob' Burns," TSA wrote on Twitter. "Bob was a dedicated husband and father, as well as being an icon in the social media world. We are saddened by Bob's passing, and we send our prayers to his family." 

Burns joined TSA in 2002 and became the agency's first employee focused on social media. He started TSA's blog in 2008, and its Instagram in 2013, which as of this posting had 950,000 followers thanks to a potpourri of pictures depicting the serious and sometimes absurd items people try to bring on planes. It is unclear whether the account will continue in his absence. 

Michael Bilello, assistant administrator for public affairs at TSA, said in an email to staff that Burns was the "heart and soul behind TSA's social media presence, which has helped significantly to humanize you -- the men and women of TSA -- as you carry out very difficult jobs at airport checkpoints across the country and around the clock."

Burns spoke with WVXU's Bill Rinehart in 2016. "Quirky photos are pretty much golden on Instagram," he said. "We had been sharing these types of photos of prohibited items on the TSA blog and I just kew that if we started sharing these same photos on Instagram, there would be an audience." 

And there was. Thanks to posts that documented the unusual items TSA confiscates during luggage checks -- everything from foot-long knives to eels -- the account quickly amassed followers and media attention. Followers appreciated Burns' humor as much as the peeks he gave to the inner workings of TSA. 

"He is the reason I follow TSA," Sahlee Griffin wrote on the Instagram post announcing his passing. "I loved his posts and comments," wrote Kristin Jones. "As someone who also works in smm (social media marketing) I appreciated his tone and voice." 

A native of Hamilton, Burns served in the army after high school and performed in the popular local band Big in Iowa, CityBeat reports

Burns leaves behind his wife Jen and daughters Hannah and Heidi. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up that will go into a trust fund for his two girls.