Dustin M. Burke Obituary

Dustin (“Dusty”) M. Burke, age 88, the second oldest son of the late James and Flora (Hunt) Burke, and husband to the late Shirley Burke, died Tuesday night, February 16, 2016, at the Newton-Wellesley Center for Alzheimer’s, surrounded by his loving family. Dusty made his home in Sherborn, MA, for over fifty years.

Born November 9, 1927 in Orange, MA, Dusty grew up in Athol, MA, during the Great Depression, developing at an early age an extraordinary work ethic, passion for sports and trademark self-motivation in helping others. On freezing Athol winter nights, after splitting wood and completing his studies, Dusty would walk two miles to the outdoor rink to help his hockey coach clean the ice rink, hook up the hose, and make new ice – one thin, slow, freezing layer at a time. In the spring, Dusty would ride his bike miles to the golf course on Pleasant Street to earn money caddying. So skilled was Dusty at finding errant golf balls, his favorite golfer rewarded him with his own first set of clubs when he was 12. By 15, Dusty was Club Champion.

 

Dusty graduated from Athol High School in 1945 where he was President of his class and the Mount Hermon School in 1946. He served in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division from 1946 to 1948 in postwar Japan, where he played quarterback for the Divisional Football Team and started and wrote for the regiment newspaper.

 

In 1948, Dusty attended Harvard College where he majored in English and played multiple sports. As a sophomore, Dusty scored the winning touchdown to beat Army and earned All American honors in hockey. Dusty captained the hockey team as a senior, wrote and delivered the class poem at graduation (1952) and was given the Burr Award (which he shared with Olympic ice skating gold medalist Dick Button) as outstanding student athlete.

 

In 1952, Dusty attended Harvard Business School. Late that fall, Dusty was re-introduced to a beautiful former Athol High School  classmate, Shirley Brackett. Dusty recalled that once, during his senior year at Athol High, he had bailed the mischievous Shirley out of big trouble with the principal by applying his considerable – but seldom used influence – and then, regrettably, letting her escape at graduation without her knowing what he had done to help her. In meeting her again, finally, 7 years later, Dusty did not let Shirley escape so easily. This time he wooed her, fell in love, and married her in 1954. They raised 5 children and were married for 53 years, when Shirley died in 2008.

 

After graduating from Harvard Business School and a two-year stint with Thompson Products in Cleveland, Dusty was recruited by Harvard in 1956 to direct the Student Employment Office and serve on the Board of Admissions. While serving both capacities, Dusty and others founded the non-profit Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) in 1957, which was to become the largest student-run company in the world, where Dusty was appointed its first General Manager. At HSA, Dusty advised Harvard student managers on how to start, plan and operate businesses, including a publishing venture that would become the world renowned “Let’s Go” travel guide. His many students have gone on to success as entrepreneurs and leaders in such fields as publishing, real estate development, retail, commercial photography, banking, public land preservation, marketing, manufacturing, agriculture and education. In 1965, Dusty was invited to assist the Johnson Administration in planning and promoting Federal equal rights educational policy for high school and college students.

 

In 1970, Dusty left Harvard to start the land company, Newport Farms in Newport, Maine, which he would continue to oversee for many years.

 

In 1975, Dusty joined the Cleaver Company in Boston as a management consultant specializing in helping CEO’s strengthen their organizations by teaching managers leadership skills such as understanding human behavior in the development of people. Dusty spent his next 35 years in this role, first as Vice President of the Cleaver Company and then as President of the Burke Cleaver Enterprises.

 

In addition to his lifelong commitment to helping others achieve happiness and success in their careers, Dusty served as Chairman of the Sherborn School Committee, won the Golf Championship at the Dedham Country & Polo Club, and was elected to the Athol High School Hall of Fame. As he aged, his childhood love of gardening and woodsmanship became a full time devotion. Dusty loved to experiment with different types of fertilizer and seeds, sharing this enthusiasm with his children.

 

In 1996, Harvard named the new HSA headquarters at 67 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge Burke-McCoy Hall in honor of Dusty, as founder, and former HSA manager Bob McCoy and Hester Bell McCoy, his wife.

 

Dusty was an exceptional swimmer, diver and instructor, working summers in high school and college as a counselor at Camp Wiyaka in Richmond, NH, and Camp Medomak in Washington, ME. Later, Dusty would amaze his children with feats of underwater swimming holding his breath, and once received a commendation from the Her Majesty the Queen of England for saving a man from drowning in Bermuda.

 

As a grandfather, Dusty was dedicated to his 15 grandchildren, spending every spare moment to go watch their hockey and soccer games, enjoy their dance recitals and plays, teach them sports, show them how to drive his tractor and look after Abby, the family dog. His grandchildren eagerly sought his wisdom, advice and coaching, academically and in planning their careers and life goals. The birth of his great grandchildren was a pride and highlight of his last year and a half of life. Alaina and Lucas delighted in visiting their great grandfather and receiving the light of his smile.

 

Dusty leaves behind his sisters Joanne (Norman) Berkowitz of Dedham, MA, and Susan (Gerald) Rosenthal of Bradford, VT, and his brother Robert (Dorothy) Burke of Easthampton, MA; his five children and their spouses, Dustin M. Burke, Jr. (Belinda), Karen E. Burke, Kelly H. DuMar (Frank), Joanna Sherblom (Paul) and Robert J. Burke (Pamela); and by his 15 grandchildren, Dustin M. Burke III, Robert “Huck” Burke, Samuel Burke and Margaret Burke; Anthony Dykstra and Marvin Dykstra; Landon DuMar, Perrin DuMar and Frances DuMar; Benjamin Sherblom (Michelle), Maelyn Gerard (Joshua) and Joseph Sherblom; Hannah Burke, Carson Burke and Harper Burke; as well as his three great grandchildren, Alaina Sherblom, Lucas Gerard and Brannan Gerard. Dusty’s older brother, James Burke, died in 2012.

 

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 20th at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 11 Washington St. in Sherborn. The family will host a reception following the service at the home of Kelly and Frank DuMar. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001, 1-866-AFA-8484, or online at www.alzfdn.org. Those wishing to learn more about Dusty and share remembrances may do so online at www.dustinmburke.com, a website devoted to his life.

 

Dear Brother, Love Bob & Dot

Once again the hearts of our family are bearing a loss. Bob’s brother, Dusty, passed away Tues. of Alheizhimer’s disease. The long good-bye is now over and he is at peace. Memories of those great camping trips with he and Shirl and the kids, Debbie playing with with her cousins while we played bridge on Sat. nights and golf at Dedham CC, a few of our precious recollections, will remain with us in the days ahead. Thank you, Dusty, for sharing your life with us and thank you for your years of support to us when we needed it. Your legacy will live on in your beautiful children and grandchildren. Until we meet again, dear brother, rest in God’s arms free of all burdens. We loved you and love you still.

1910513_1663691487220160_3339998096328282200_n.jpg1798404_10201573038356801_474308721_n.jpg

For Grampy, Love Pam

“With love and gratitude to the best Dad, Grandfather and Great-grandfather a family could be blessed with. You’ll be missed more than I can say. Love Pam”

Here’s Dusty swimming at Laurel Lake with his grandsons Carson and Huck on a summer day.

12719348_1258220527528584_4423592578064235418_o.jpg

Here’s Dusty at one of the hundreds of his grandchildren’s sports events he attended – Carson, playing baseball, and Harper, just there for the pleasure of being with Grampy.

12747868_1258220534195250_8425739303904335201_o-1

Here’s Dusty with his favorite cowgirl, Hannah, in the woods.

12716250_1258220530861917_26250061112148408_o.jpg

From Maelyn, for Grampy

Maelyn, Dusty’s 2nd grandchild, is named after him – Joanna & Paul used his middle name, Mahlon, as the inspiration for her name.

Here is a letter from Maelyn to Grampy:

My grandfather served our country, played hockey, was a Harvard grad, a brilliant business man- with a wife, 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. He has accomplished so much. Yet, I have to admit, the things that I will remember the most- That make me smile the most- are things that, to an outsider, wouldn’t mean much.

Like how he would say “glug glug glug” as he poured me a glass or cranberry juice.

Or how I remember walking with him from Camp down to the lake. His sandal-less feet landing down on sharp rocks- yet his face showing no sign of pain. He’d tell me how walking barefoot will make your feet strong. So I endured that pain, as he once did, in hopes to have strong feet just like Grampy.

Or when we would visit, he would give me and my brothers a box of what seemed like a million coins. Coins we would count, roll, and split evenly into thirds.

So now I quietly giggle as I pour a glass of juice, repeating “glug glug glug” under my breath. I faintly smile when I walk barefoot across the stone driveway, or down to the beach. And I am filled with joy helping my son individually place endless handfuls of coins into his piggy bank. THAT is how I will remember my Grampy.

[Maelyn is pictured here on one of her many visits to her grandfather with her son, his second great grandchild, Lucas, and with her mother, Joanna, below.]12698189_10209232105226079_1581972481236308237_o

A Celebration Honoring Dusty’s Life

Please join us on Saturday, February 20, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sherborn, MA, to honor and celebrate the life of our father, Dustin Mahlon Burke, who died peacefully on February 16 in the comfort and care of his five children, Dusty, Jr., Karen, Kelly, Joanna, and Bobby, and his sister Joanne and brother-in-law Norman.

Church CONTACT INFO

UUAC at First Parish
11 Washington St.
PO Box 158
Sherborn MA 01770
508-653-1422

From Franci, To Our Beloved

Kelly & Dad Hands Hold_oLast spring on one of my many visits to my grandfather’s nursing home I shot on my Film Pentax K1000 my mother and grandfather holding hands. The instant my film paper hit the developer in the darkroom some many days later, I knew I would be in love with this photo.

Even though he may have unlearned the words to express love, beauty, family, names, places, walk by the Charles at Harvard, Monadnock hikes, Laurel Lake swims, Grampy never forgot the essence of touch. When I would grab his hand, much like my mother did in this photo, the warmth between our two hands would meet and tell me a story. I would feel flowing between us a memory that could no longer be revealed in voice, but in a simpler and quieter way. This unconventional communication between us was just as beautiful, if not more.

I shall never believe that the memories of life and love truly fade. You can touch them without even realizing. ~ With enduring love, Franci

IMG_2044-To our beloved and missed father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Dusty Sr.

A Celebration Honoring Dusty’s Life

Please join us on Saturday, February 20, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Sherborn, MA, to honor and celebrate the life of our father, Dustin Mahlon Burke, who died peacefully on February 16 in the comfort and care of his five children, Dusty, Jr., Karen, Kelly, Joanna, and Bobby, and his sister Joanne and brother-in-law Norman.

Church CONTACT INFO

UUAC at First Parish
11 Washington St.
PO Box 158
Sherborn MA 01770
508-653-1422