Robert Arthur Burke, 91, of Janesville, Wisconsin, a veteran of World War II on Saipan, passed away last Sept. 27, 2017.
He was surrounded by his family in the home of his son, Jim Burke, who is a U.S. Army JROTC instructor at Kagman High School for the past 17 years and is a business owner of Friendly Market in San Jose.
Robert Arthur Burke was born on Nov. 2, 1925, in Virginia, MN. His family moved to Duluth, MN, and then Cudahy, Wisconsin during the Great Depression. He graduated from Cudahy High School in 1944 and served the entire World War II on Saipan.
Burke graduated from the Milwaukee State Teachers College in 1950 and received his master’s degree from UW-Madison in 1951. He was a teacher in the Janesville public school for 37.5 years.
He was a man of boundless energy who worked hard all of his life. In addition to teaching elementary school, he coached many after-school sports; did janitorial work during school breaks; was a camp counselor during summer breaks; and delivered pizza evenings and weekends. He received many awards and accolades during his teaching career.
Burke loved life, loved to sing, loved to sail and loved to dance. Most of all, he loved his wife and 11 children. Burke always had a joke or poem for every conversational topic. He truly enjoyed expanding his worldly knowledge. After his retirement in 1990, Burke traveled to many foreign places. He always had a sparkle in his eye as he shared what he learned about different cultures and countries.
Burke sang in church and community choirs throughout his life and enjoyed playing many musical instruments. He especially enjoyed singing and performing with the Troubadour Choir in his later years.
Burke was a member of the Janesville Kiwanis Golden K for 12 years, the Janesville Eagles Club for three years, and a lifetime member of the Janesville VFW. His motto was: “Be nice, be good, and don’t be stupid.”
Burke is preceded in death by his father, Robert Francis Burke; his mother, Jane Fisher Burke; two brothers, Richard and William Burke; a sister, Elaine Nault; his loving wife of 52 years, Myrtle Eilene O’Kelly Burke; his son, John Edwin Burke; and his son-in-law, Dennis Metzger.
Burke is survived by his sister, Genevieve Burke; 10 children: Carrie (Gary) Glover, Patricia (Thomas) Schraeder, James (Apple) Burke, Michael Burke, Eilene (James) Shroeckenthaler, Holly Metzger, Adair (Richard) Moccero, Kathleen Burke, Susan (Timothy) Custer, Robert (Darcy) Burke, and 21 grandchildren.
Burke has returned to Saipan twice to visit his son, James Burke, and a granddaughter who was born on Saipan. He always commented on how much Saipan has changed over the years into a beautiful wonderful island.
He was last honored at the 70th Liberation Day on June 15, 2014, where he received the Saipan liberation medal from the governor of Saipan. (PR)