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Robert L. Burke

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Date published: 2/3/2014

Robert L. Burke

Col. Robert L. Burke, 85, of Orange County died on Friday, Jan. 31, at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, following a stroke.

He was born on Dec. 30, 1928, in Corning, N.Y., the son of the late Edmund and Gertrude Burke.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; three daughters, Randi Richards (Larry) of Orange, Karen Morison (Samuel) of Fairfax and Elizabeth Edwards (Billy) of Springfield; a son, Robert L. Burke Jr., (Marjolijn Bijlefeld) of Fredericksburg; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; eight nieces and nephews; a sister, Jean Burke Landon of Culpeper; and a brother, William Burke of Florida.

He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1952 from the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. In 1963, he received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Alabama. His military career included service in South Korea 1960-61, and in Vietnam 1967-68, where, as an artillery officer, he commanded a Hawk Missile Battery and served as chief of plans and operations for the 1st Field Force Corps. From 1972 to 1973, he returned to Vietnam as chief of information for U.S. military operations in Southeast Asia.

During his military service he earned a number of awards and commendations. Among them are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, and the Distinguished Service Order (Vietnam).

He graduated from the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., in 1974. He was then assigned to the Pentagon as director of defense information in the office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1977, he retired from military service and joined the American Newspaper Publishers Association. He retired from there in 1991 as senior vice president. He also was active in the Orange County Republican Party, serving as its chairman for three years.

He possessed a playful, good humor and a gentle nature, and a deep devotion and loyalty to his family and his friends. And, he was known to visit the grave of a soldier who died in Vietnam under his command, a memory that never left him.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 143 W. Main St., in Orange, with Pastor Tom Barnard presiding. A reception will follow the service. Arrangements are being handled by Preddy Funeral Home in Orange.

Burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to the Orange County Free Clinic, Box 441, Orange, VA 22960.