Franklin “Frank” Burke, age 92, of Hutchinson, passed away Monday, January 1, 2018, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson.
Services will be at a later date.
Arrangements are with the Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel in Hutchinson.
Franklin Burke was my Grandfather. I have always thought of him as the “George Bailey of Fernando”. He agreed that he had a “wonderful life”.
Franklin Willis Ellery Burke was born in Fernando to Herbert and Martha (Spiering) Burke on March 25, 1925 and baptized on April 19, 1925 at his beloved St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Fernando. Confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Winthrop on June 4, 1939. He graduated from Brownton High School on June 3, 1943 and was quite popular. He had earned the nickname “Wolf” as stated in his yearbook. He enlisted in the Air Force July 7, 1943. He was medically disqualified from Pilot School and this was very upsetting to him. He became an airplane mechanic and flew the “HUMP” and was honorably discharged on March 27, 1946. On August 18, 1944 he married Dorothea A. Niebuhr. They were blessed with 73 years of marriage and three children, Marcene, Don and Ted. When the war was over, he and Dorothy ran Burke’s Store & Feed Service in Fernando until 1975. When the store’s doors closed, they opened their doors to their three grandchildren – Bob, Lori & Chuck. He worked for New Ulm Wholesale and became President of the company. At one time, a board member of the Stewart Bank; he held many positions at his beloved St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church Fernando. But, if you were to ask him about his favorite job, it would have been being a Bus Driver for Linder Bus Company which he started doing many years into his retirement. How he loved seeing the kids everyday & he made sure they made it safely to school.
Franklin and Dorothy made their home in Fernando until 1995 and then they moved to Hutchinson. Franklin entered Buffalo Lake Healthcare Center in March of 2017 where he felt as if he were “half way to heaven!” in a very good way. He loved his time at Buffalo Lake but desired to be closer to Dorothy, so in September, he moved to Harmony River in Hutchinson, which was just a few blocks away from their home, and passed away on January 1, 2018. A family memorial service was held on January 7, 2018 at their home and a funeral is planned for a later date.
He was a very generous man. His spirit was larger than life. He knew how to work hard, how to enjoy life, and how to live right. He made sure his family was taken care of, and he enjoyed spending time with each of the five generations of his family. He fully gave of himself, always.
Anyone who knew Frank Burke knew one thing about him: he was never “frank”. I told Jim Lauer (McLeod County Veterans Office) about Grandpa’s passing, he recalled in taking him to the VA, it was never a quiet ride! He loved to talk and interact with people of all ages! He was an expressive storyteller! An entertainer! And back in the day, quite the dancer! My Godmother Gwen said their family loved coming out to Fernando and then out to Lake Marion to go water skiing and watch Grandpa on his “disc”. She said he was the fun committee.
He loved to fish too! He even had a following out at Lake Winnie. His stringers were always to the limit and the other guests at the Four Seasons Resort wanted to know his secrets and followed him!
He was a rambunctious overbidding card player and 500 and Pinochle were two of his favorites. A crafty player, even when he would overbid, he could almost make it and many times did and was never a sore loser.
He loved maintaining a beautiful home and meticulous yard and garden. He also loved maintaining the church property while they lived across the street from it.
His time in the Air Force during WW2 gave him the opportunity to see more of the world while stationed in the Pacific Theater. He told us many stories and left us his history to read.
He learned how to fly and was a partner in many plane ownerships over the years. This was a passion of his. He loved being in the air. We would look up at the sky and he taught me to look at clouds and see things in them. Look at the jet streams and then find the jets and then he had me guess where they were headed to. I loved taking him to the VA and while driving on Hwy 62, by the intersection of Hwy 77, the planes would come in, right across us. Oh, how he loved this! Oh, how he loved the technology of flight!
He was most proud that he became a believer at age 53. Accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior without a doubt! Amen! This gave him peace of mind. His final wish was for everyone to know this same peace.
He is survived by his beautiful bride of 73 years Dorothy; Children, Marcene Witt, Don Burke, Ted Burke (Suzanne); Grandchildren, Bob Witt and wife Joy, Lori Loomis and husband Michael, Chuck Witt and wife Lisa; Great-Grandchildren, Rachel Schmidt and husband Jake, Tara Strey and husband Dave, Alex Witt and Dorothy Witt; Great-Great-Grandchildren, Sophie, Burke and Reuben Schmidt, Cody and Amelia Strey; Brother, Wayne Burke and wife JoAnn; Many Nieces, Nephews, Cousins and wonderful friends.
Lovingly prepared by his “Best Grand-Daughter” (& only)…Lori