Woodbury Supervisor John Burke dies of complications from surgery
By Chris McKenna
Published: 12:29 PM – 07/29/14
Last updated: 3:25 PM – 07/29/14
Any Woodbury residents looking to bend the ear of their town supervisor should have had no trouble finding John Burke: He stationed himself outside one of Woodbury’s two post offices every Saturday morning, holding outdoor office hours to gather input from his fellow citizens.
His absence last weekend didn’t got unnoticed.
The 73-year-old underwent a scheduled surgery at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla on Wednesday and came through it fine, only to suffer unrelated complications afterward, according to his son, Tom. After struggling with illness for several days, Burke died at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Burke, a father of six and grandfather of 13, had been town supervisor since 2006, having eased into politics as a regular and vocal audience member at town meetings and then taking office by unseating an incumbent during a controversy over a 451-home development proposal. He was re-elected four times without opposition, except for a write-in challenge in 2009.
He presided through an eventful period in Woodbury, starting with the incorporation of a Village of Woodbury and division of local-government duties, and culminating recently in votes by the village and town boards to endorse Caesars Entertainment’s bid for a casino license. In between were intermittent clashes with neighboring Kiryas Joel over the village’s water pipeline and other issues.
Throughout, the affable, white-haired former principal considered it an honor to serve the town his family settled in after leaving the Bronx in 1968, his son Tom recalled Tuesday.
“He was so passionate for the town,” he said. “He was very protective of it.”
Burke grew up in the Bronx, attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine High School and Manhattan College and started his career as a business teacher and basketball coach at Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers.
He later took a teaching job at Nanuet Senior High School and went on to be an assistant principal for six years and principal for 23 years at that school. Upon his retirement in 2000, the district named the school after him.
“John was very dedicated to our community and loved by many,” Town Clerk Desiree Potvin said Tuesday in a statement on behalf of the town government. “Amongst his many accomplishments during his tenure, the one he was most proud of was the improvements to the Central Valley Pool/Pond. John was a fair and kind individual with a large, loving family. He will be extremely missed.”
After winning his first election in 2005, Burke said he’d started knocking on doors in June and visited 1,800 households by election day. His son, Tom, pointed to a similar feat of dedication on Tuesday, saying his father logged 105 consecutive Saturdays at the Highland Mills and Central Valley post offices.
But attending his grandchildren’s graduations and other events and receiving their impromptu visits at Town Hall was an even bigger source of pride.
“The one thing that lit up his life was the 13 grandchildren,” he said. “Whatever was going on with the grandkids — that was his joy.”
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Burke, John [MC???? RIP]
# – # – # – # – # 2014-Jul-29 @ 19:26
Colon, Philip J. (MC1962) added this request to his prayer circle.
# – # – # – # – # 2014-Jul-30 @ 00:04
I do not find anything in my ‘stuff’ for John.
May He Rest In Peace.
McEneney, Mike (MC1953)
[JR: Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.]
# – # – # – # – # 2014-Jul-30 @ 07:13
I have been trying to determine the year our John Burke graduated from Manhattan. I asked my cousin Tom, who went to Tolentine, if he knew when John graduated from Tolentine:
Jon Burke was Class of 1958 @ Tolentine.
That would seem to indicate that he would be the class of 1962 at Manhattan. In the Obituary his son says that he spent time campaigning at the “Central Valley Post office”, and my records show that John P. Burke,’62 resided in Central Valley. Mystery solved!
McEneney, Mike (MC1953)
[JR: Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated. Great detective work!]
Burke, John [MC1962 RIP]
# – # – # – # – # 2014-Aug-12 @ 10:50