LOWVILLE, NY – Richard E. (Dick) Burke, 88, died on Wednesday evening, Nov. 10, 2021, at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, where he has been a patient since November 1.
Richard was born on Nov. 25, 1932, at home on the family farm in the town of Harrisburg, New York, a son of the late William Edward and Helen Martha McDonald Burke. He was a 1950 graduate of Lowville Academy where he participated in a variety of school activities including football, basketball and baseball. He may not have been one of the considered stars, but as he aged, Dick recalled that his own memories rectified that problem.
Richard was born posthumously one month following his father’s accidental death. At the time, his six siblings ranged in age from one to twelve years old. Helen soon relocated her family to Lowville. The oldest child James began working on a neighbor’s farm. Despite Depression Era hardships, with grace and fortitude, Helen was able to raise her seven children to graduate from high school and beyond.
Richard briefly attended Central City Business Institute. He then joined the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict in 1951. For four years he was assigned to The Naval Security Group Headquarters in Washington D.C and NSG locations on Oahu, Territory Of Hawaii.
On Aug. 22, 1953, he was married at St. Peter’s Church in Lowville, Monsignor John A Cotter officiating to Florence Mary Bickford, his high school Sweetheart. Florence (Flo) then joined Richard for the remaining two years of Naval service. Their sixty four year marriage was a blessed and happy one. Florence preceded him in death on Nov. 26, 2017.
In addition to his wife and parents, Richard was preceded in death by his siblings James, Gladys Lynch, Beatrice Ptak, Doris Wallace, John and Frank. Also by his beloved granddaughter Angela Burke. He is survived by his four children, Kathleen Burke Barker, Michael Burke, Andrew Burke, Susan Burke Stamber and her husband Eric. Also by seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Knowledge’s and skills attained by Dick while on assignments with The Naval Security Group led directly to an additional 33 years as a Civilian employee at the National Security headquarters, Fort George G Meade, Maryland. He was justifiably proud that the combined 37 Years began at the same time the NSA was formed to provide critical information to U.S. decision makers and the Armed Services in defense of our Nation. As an Administrative Management staff officer at increasingly higher Agency operational echelons, he always knew that his personal efforts contributed significantly to the National Security Agency’s mission. He was cited many times for outstanding performance and received many other awards. In 1976 he was presented an NSA Security Award by the Agency Director Lieutenant General Lew Allen, U.S. Air Force. Dick’s mother Helen was proudly in attendance that day. In 1979 Dick received a personal thank you letter from Major General George McFadden for “excellent personal – effort on my behalf”. The General was departing NSA on a new assignment and singled out several staff members he considered most deserving of such praise.
After his 1988 retirement from NSA Dick became a delivery contractor at Landmark Publishing Company of Westminster, MD. 25 years later, at age 80, he decided that 70 years working should be enough. Various Lowville employers had started him off at age ten.
Dick Burke’s interests were wide ranging which led him wherever he was located to actively participate in various “extra curricular” pursuits. In 1999, Dick enlisted Maryland’s Pearce Publishers to assist him to self publish a book he had authored “You Can Call Me Irish”. A trip to Ireland 3 years earlier was his inspiration to trace his all Irish ancestors from ancient Ireland to present day America.
Dick wrote many articles over many years which were published in a number of publications including the Adirondack Mountain Sun and the Journal and Republican.
When the Wheaton Maryland formed the Wheaton Boys Club in the 1960’s Mr. Burke was one of its first Little League Baseball Managers. He continued coaching for several years.
Also in Maryland he was a lead singer with the Old Line Statesmen Barbershop Chorus which staged various shows and was once invited to sing the National Anthem at a Baltimore Oriole Seattle Mariner baseball game.
He belongs to the Phoenix Society (people long associated with the U.S. Intelligence Community), Dick was a member of the Elks in Maryland and remains a member in good standing in Lowville’s BPO Elks Lodge. He is also an American Legion Post # 162 member. He belonged to the Lewis County Historical Society as well. He also continued to play various sports for many years to include softball, golf and yes, pool shooter. Dick’s memories of these activities are perhaps too recent for him to be elevated to stardom. It could still happen.
Richard was a communicant of St. Peter’s Catholic Church where a funeral Mass will be said 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, with Rev. Scott A. Belina, Pastor officiating. Burial will follow with military honors in West Lowville Rural Cemetery. Calling hours will be 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Sundquist Funeral Home.
In addition to the words above written by Dick, his family and friends would like to share that he was a kind, funny, intelligent and loving man. His faith in God and his commitment to his family never faltered. He loved making a personal connection with everyone he met and as such touched the lives of many.
He was truly one of a kind and will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Online condolence of sympathy may be made at www.sundquistfh.com