Family Remembers Henry Burke

By: WTAP News
By: WTAP News

UPDATE: 5/7/2012 5:10 PM

His love of history inspired others all throughout the valley.

"A proud man, an honest man. A man who no matter how much or how little he has is the same man," Burke's daughter, Kimberly M. Burke says.

That's how Henry Burke's family hopes he'll be remembered. The local historian died Saturday from a heart attack at the age of 72, leaving behind years of research and knowledge.

"At first it seemed to me like a hobby because he had to work and take care of his family but after he retired it became his full time mission in life to find out as much as he could and to pass that on to people," Kimberly remembers.

A love for teaching and serving others led him to serve our country as a staff sergeant in the Cold War. "Ir molded him and shaped him kinda into what he became," she says.

During an interview in January 2012, Henry Burke told a story of his time serving our country. "This one time I got involved in a civil rights case and my commander turned his head. He didn't want to notice. He said you weren't there...you weren't down there."

An Underground Railroad exhibit at the Belpre Historical Society is just one of many projects Burke accomplished in his life, but there's one lesson he made his mission to teach others.

"We've still got a long way to go in this country and I think people that don't believe in inequality ought to wake up," Burke said earlier this year.

A lesson that comes straight from his heart.

"His enthusiasm his heart his spirit was the first thing you saw about him. It didn't matter who you were," Kimberly says.

Calling hours are this Friday, May 11th from 12-1 at Leavitt Funeral Home in Belpre. Services will follow. Burke will be buried with military honors.

______________________________________________________
Leavitt Funeral Home confirms that Henry Burke of Marietta passed away Saturday.

He's remembered in the valley as a historian with years of experience in uncovering the history or our area.

Burke's passion for Civil War history lead to the research and discovery of many local connections to the war.

He's also credited for his work in the underground railroad exhibit showcased at the Belpre Historical Society.

Services and cause of death have not been announced at this time but stay tuned to WTAP and WTAP.com for more information as it becomes available.


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  • by donna holland Location: amesville,ohio on May 8, 2012 at 12:14 PM
    May GOD confort the family at their lost.
  • by Art Location: Springfield, Ohio on May 8, 2012 at 05:11 AM
    My condolences and deepest sympathy to the immediate and extended families of Henry Robert Burke. We all should be thankful for Henry's contributions to the recording, preservation and teaching of our common histories. Henry, thank you for all of the lessons taught and for your friendship. May you rest in peace.
  • by Bennie Location: Trotwood, Ohio on May 7, 2012 at 02:00 PM
    Henry and I met many years ago and we fast became trusted friends. We spent many many hours by telephone or during my visits to Marietta discussing the history of the Underground Railroad and Civil War. One of the most memorable sessions took place almost all of one afternoon sitting on the patio of the Levee House Restaurant drinking iced tea, discussing the area's 19th century history, and of course I received lessons on the barges and tugboats moving up and down the river. A few years ago Henry bestowed upon me the title "Commander" and he called himself "Jet1". Henry is going to be missed greatly, but never forgotten. Rest in Peace my friend.
  • by janet Location: coal run ohio on May 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM
    I grew up with Henry. Our families were close. He was funny, bright, and kind. He and my broher Charlie Fogle considered themslelves brothers. I will miss him. Condolences to all of his family.
  • by Debra Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM
    Henry & I share a lot of great memories. Many personal memories, as well as what he was GREATLY known for.... All the work he has done on the UGRR... An author of several well known books, and a GREAT lecturer of the UGRR in SE Ohio and beyond. He is a legend. And in HONOR of his MEMORY, I dedicate myself in continuing his legacy. Just like he asked and wanted me to. His legacy will live on through me and many others who believed in the importance of his work. I'm gonna miss him. Miss his smile, laugh and most of all.... the love he gave to me.
  • by Debra Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 7, 2012 at 09:14 AM
    I've got so many things running through my head right now about Henry. All the memories we shared, a lot of personal memories as well as what he was GREATLY known for.... All the work he has done on the UGRR... An author of several well known books, and a GREAT lecturer of the UGRR in SE Ohio and beyond. He is a legend. And in HONOR of his MEMORY, I dedicate myself in continuing his legacy. Just like he asked and wanted me to. His legacy will live on through me and many others who believed in the importance of his work. I'm gonna miss him. Miss his smile, laugh and most of all.... the love he gave to me.
  • by 2012 Senior Location: Newport on May 7, 2012 at 08:16 AM
    Our thoughts and prayers are with Henry's family. he was a great man. i knew him personaly. he was always there to help people. R.I.P. Henry you will be missed by many!
  • by Roger Sheppard Location: WTAP on May 7, 2012 at 07:52 AM
    Henry was a wonderful person. I remember being at a campaign stop by then-Sen. Barack Obama in Nelsonville, OH in the spring of 2008. Henry was asked to be among those sitting on the stage with the candidate. I remember watching Henry as he sat there, carefully considering the words of this young man. I talked with him later and he said "Just because he's an African-American, that doesn't mean I'm going to vote for him." Later he shared with me that he figured he would end up voting for Obama, not becasue of his race, but because of what he said. I don't know if Henry had ever imagined he would live to see an African-American person elected President of the United States. But I'm certainly glad he DID live to see that.
  • by Pennie Location: Belpre on May 7, 2012 at 06:33 AM
    Sad to hear of Henry's passing. He was a dedicated man to his historical and the areas underground railroad history. My Father was Ellis Perry, whose African artifacts Henry had in his museum of African history and the museum was named for. My condolences go out to his family and may God's peace and grace be with you during this difficult time. God Bless, Pennie Gant
  • by Susan Sheppard on May 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM
    Mr. Burke also did important research in Appalachian genealogy, as well as uncovering otherwise unheard of stops on the Underground Railroad in our area. He was also a fantastic speaker and story-teller. He will be greatly missed.
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