John J. Burke Jr. ‘63, benefactor and nine-year Trustee for Spring Hill College, died at age 77 in Fox Point, Wisconsin, where he lived with his wife, Kathryn Murphy “Murph” Burke. Survived by five children and 10 grandchildren, he will be remembered at a funeral Mass in Milwaukee on Feb. 5.
Since graduating from Spring Hill, Burke capitalized upon his knowledge, hard work and visionary, entrepreneurial insights to identify needs in the real estate market and create workable solutions for his clients. He founded Burke Properties, which has had a significant positive impact on the Milwaukee landscape.
“John Burke has been an incredible friend and enthusiastic supporter of the College,” said President E. Joseph Lee, PhD. “It is clear to see – in multiple facets – his and his family’s enduring impact on our college family.”
In 1994, Burke gave the college a gift to establish the John J. Burke Entrepreneurial Leadership Scholarship Fund. He credited Spring Hill with helping him, saying “I have always considered my years at Spring Hill College to be most valuable. The education I gained and the things I learned while residing at the College in no small way helped enable me to establish this scholarship fund."
Of memorable note is the funding, building and dedication of the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library in September 2004. Nearly 500 attendees saw the opening of the building and burying of a time capsule. Burke and his brother, Kevin Burke ’66, provided the funding for the state-of-the-art facility, which they named in memory of their parents. “Take advantage of the treasures found in this place," John Burke said at the dedication of the building.
In 2017, he funded the John J. Burke Jr. Center for the Study and Advancement of Free Enterprise. The Burke Center will be a College-wide program, offering courses of study in understanding the free enterprise system, entrepreneurship and American business principles to all majors. The center’s goals are to educate Spring Hill College students on the concepts of free enterprise and the free market system, ultimately empowering students to use their Jesuit education to contribute to a stronger U.S. economy and job growth as well as to improve the lives of all others.