Cover photo for Richard T. Burke's Obituary
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Richard T. Burke

d. May 29, 2023

Richard T. Burke

Richard T. Burke of Hingham, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Monday, May 29, 2023. He was 88. Throughout his life he was a loving husband, a supportive father and devoted grandfather, an educator, a public servant, a world traveler, and a loyal friend to many far and wide.

He was born to Rita (O’Connell) and Russell Burke and raised in Framingham. He attended Framingham High School and went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Boston University. Richard was the first in his family to attend college and was elected president of both his junior and senior class. After graduating, he served in the US Army and rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He was stationed in Germany where he served in the 41st Transportation Company. Richard earned his doctorate from Northwestern University where he met his first wife, Joan (Naslund) Burke. 

He then took a job as a history professor with Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI where he would raise a family. Richard served in many roles at WMU including dean of the Division of Continuing Education and vice president for Regional Education and Economic Development. His hard work and dedication along with his ability to forge partnerships resulted in many contributions to the university and community. Under his leadership, WMU developed extensive off-campus education programs throughout west-Michigan and he was instrumental in expanding and relocating the College of Aviation to Battle Creek. He also headed initial planning for the WMU Business Technology and Research Park in Kalamazoo. Upon Richard’s retirement from WMU he was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Public Service.  

Richard remarried Jean (Palmer) Hines Burke, his college sweetheart from Boston University, and they spent the rest of their days together, inseparable. He moved to Massachusetts and worked as an administrator for University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for over 10 years.  

In his spare time, Richard continued to serve his community and was elected to five consecutive terms on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. He was also an avid sports fan. He especially enjoyed watching his beloved WMU Broncos hockey team. He was a devoted father and was always there for his kids. Whether it was cheering them on at their sporting events or helping them get the most out of their education. 

In later years Richard and Jean traveled extensively to Europe, Asia, and Africa.  He truly loved people and his caring, friendly disposition made him fast friends everywhere. Some say he never met a stranger.

Beloved husband of 29 years to Jean Hines Burke. Devoted father to David Burke of Eugene, OR, and Carolyn Burke and her husband Brian Donahue of Eugene, OR. Loving stepfather to Stephen Hines and his wife Debra of Hingham. Brother to Constance Anderson of Tiverton, RI and Barbara Kent of Onalaska, WA.  Cherished grandfather to Hadley Weiss of New York, NY and step grandfather (Undi) to Kate Hines, Matthew Hines and Griffin Hines, all of Hingham.

Friends and relatives are welcome to attend the Funeral Service on June 12th at 10 AM at the Pyne Keohane Funeral Home, 21 Emerald Street, Hingham, MA. Burial will be held at High Street Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in Richard’s name may be made to the Framingham Heart Study or the WMU Office of Military and Veterans Affairs.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard T. Burke, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Monday, June 12, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

Pyne Keohane Funeral Home

21 Emerald Street, Hingham, MA 02043

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