Hector Burke
Hector Burke

Obituary of Hector Refugio Burke

Hector Refugio Burke, beloved husband and father, passed to glory on July 5, 2023, the day after his 90th birthday. Born to immigrants from Bachíniva, Mexico — Jorge Burke and Maria Cándida (Cuca) Chávez y Chacon Burke — on July 4, 1933, in McAllen, Texas, Hector worked as a migrant farm laborer with his family in fields across Texas and California before they settled down on their own little rancho near Salinas, California.  Although he began elementary school speaking Spanish only, he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and finished his career as Chief of Professional Standards for Educators in the state of California. Throughout his life, he sought to bring opportunities to other migrant families and to create equity for all students.   

While he met his future wife at Salinas High School, Hector Burke and Margie Russo didn’t begin dating until they attended Hartnell Junior College together, and they married after graduating from CSU San Jose.  On July 17, Hector and Margie would have been married 65 years. They had six children: Linda (married to Thomas Dooling), Hector (married to Napha Nantana), George (married to Monica Tamayo), Julie (passed away 1989), David (married to Madeline Mendoza), and Paul (married to Maria Carnevale). 

Hector was a loving and actively involved grandfather to Carmel Dooling, Camille Burke, Casandra Burke, Maria Dooling, Anna Burke, Lysandra Burke, Marcus Burke, and Marjie Burke. He loved all his extended family, Burke, Russo, and Lindquist. Many happy memories of holidays, vacations, and travels together with his brothers Albert and Oscar, his nieces and nephews, his precious grandchildren, and his beloved in-laws were highlights of his life.

Hector was passionate, hard-working, intelligent, and idealistic. He knew how to have fun! He was a spiritual man, seeking Catholic rites during his final week of life. He was a proud Korean War-era veteran. He had a keen sense of justice. He walked around with a notebook in his shirt pocket, writing down thousands of ideas; he was an avid reader; he played a mean game of Hearts and Scrabble around so many tables; he got up early every morning to get the family ready for the day; he went camping and to the beach and to zoos and museums and movies with all six of his children and, while he was in good health, with his grandchildren as well. He lit up a room, he lit up our lives. We loved him. 

A Celebration of Life will be held at Hector and Margie’s Salinas home on Saturday, August 26, from 3 PM to 7 PM; please drop in to see the family, have dinner with us, talk with Margie, and share stories about Hector with friends and family. 

Family members will attend a mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salinas, California on Sunday, August 27, at the 11:00 AM service, to share prayers with the community of the faithful for the peaceful repose of Hector’s soul. In lieu of flowers, please consider planting a tree (link on this page). 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Hector Burke, please visit Tribute Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Hector
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Mission Mortuary
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