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Donald Eugene Burke, 98, passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours of May 18, 2023. He always had a friendly handshake and warm smile to offer, and he ended his days with gratitude and at peace.
Visitation will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at Friemonth-Freese Funeral Home in Fayette, with Celebration of Life at 11 a.m. and burial to follow.
Donald was born July 21, 1924, in Kirksville, MO, to Frederick Arthur and Omie (Dearing) Burke, joining his sister, Dorothy. When he was 6 months old, the family moved to Brookfield, MO, where his parents ran a small grocery store.
Donald graduated from Brookfield High School in 1942, where he was active in debate and journalism and where he met his future wife, Alice Marie Hayes. Donald and Alice remained sweethearts for nearly eighty years. They were in Kansas City attending an event with the high school Journalism Class in December of 1941 at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was an Able Bodied Seaman with the U.S. Merchant Marine Service from 1943-1946, making 13 round trips across the North Atlantic to carry war supplies from U.S. East Coast ports to Great Britain. He also made 13 shuttle runs between Southampton in England and the Normandy Coast of France. The first of these took him to Utah Beach four days after D-Day. He hitched a ride to Paris days after its liberation. At the end of the War, he sailed on supply runs to North Africa, Italy, and France, and he saw the Sistine Chapel and the Pope when he hitched a ride to Rome.
Donald and Alice were married on June 6, 1947, at Grand Avenue Methodist Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. He then attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in January of 1950 and did an additional year of graduate studies in Political Science. He moved with his growing family to Fayette, where he was the lead reporter for the Fayette Democrat Leader and Fayette Advertiser newspapers doing news writing for 28 years from May of 1951 to May 1979. He later worked in the purchasing department at Keller Memorial Hospital in Fayette from 1981 until 1987.
Donald was dedicated to his community and to staying informed about the world. He served on the Fayette Planning Commission during its early years, and he was treasurer for local Boy Scouts of America Troop 62 for twenty years. He was an avid reader and enjoyed woodworking and listening to news reports from around the world on his shortwave radio. He was a humble man who believed in “doing the best we can” and in “making do.”
Donald is survived by three of his four children – Frederick Martin Burke (Lisbeth Ann Kelly) of Ridgefield, CT, and their children (Alison Katherine Kelly Burke and Caroline Elizabeth Kelly Burke); Nancy Louise Burke of Columbia, MO; and Donald Harrison Burke-Agüero (Hannia Lorena Burke-Agüero) of Columbia, MO and their children (Daniel Eugene Burke-Agüero [Alicia Jo (Troesser) Burke-Agüero, and their children Jonah William and Josephine Marie Burke-Agüero] and Rebecca Nicole Burke-Agüero); and by granddaughters Tricia-Noël Yvonne Burke (Keith Boldeau), Natalie Robyn Marie Burke, and Lauren Nicole Jonelle Burke (children of son John Stanley Burke of Houston, TX) and daughter-in-law Lupita Burke (m. John). He is also survived by niece Rosalyn Jane (Foley) Fisher (Ed) of Gardner, KS, and cousin Eleanor Jean (Burke) Cooper (John). He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Alice Marie Hayes Burke, his son John Stanley Burke (Lupita) of Houston, TX, his sister and brother-in-law Dorothy (Burke) Foley (Delmar); and his niece Marilyn June (Foley) Allee (Ron).
Special thanks to Hometown Homecare of Fayette, Keeping Good Company of Columbia, and Compassus Hospice of Columbia. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Friemonth-Freese Funeral Services, 174 Hwy 5 & 240 North, Fayette, MO 65248, (660) 248-3116.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in memory of Donald E. Burke to
Fayette Public Library, 201 S Main St., Fayette, MO 65248 (660-248-3348; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Boy Scouts of America Great Rivers Council, 6081 W Van Horn Tavern Rd, Columbia, MO 65203 (573-449-2561; email@example.com).
Hometown Homecare, 101 Furr Street, Fayette, MO 65248 (660-248-2100;firstname.lastname@example.org).