Wayne L. Burke, age 85, passed away on November 30 with his family by his side. He was born in Orrville, Ohio and lived most of his life in Suffield with his wife, Phyllis. He spent his entire career in education at the Springfield Local School system near Akron, Ohio where he began teaching and ultimately rose to high school principal. He truly loved and cared about his students and staff. Education was a calling, never just a job.
Wayne liked to be outdoors and was an avid golfer and sailor. In his younger years, he had his pilot’s license and loved flying. He enjoyed reading and sports of any kind. Early in his career, he coached the boy’s basketball team at his school and later became a referee. He was a life-long fan of the Cleveland Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers. This year, he was excited to see “his” Ohio State Buckeyes rise to the top of the rankings.
Also notable was he and a group of other educators had a monthly poker night which spanned more than 30 years...the same core group remained together and were wonderful friends to this day. Wayne was very active in his church (Suffield United Church of Christ) and loved his days of singing in the choir.
After retirement, he and his wife split their time between Ohio and Ft. Myers, Florida, where they were both active in their community and made many new friends. He headed up the neighborhood golf league as well as participated in their holiday choral productions and helped coordinate their group gatherings.
Six years ago, he and his wife relocated to Hoover, Alabama due to her declining health. He lived with his daughter, son-in-law, and their two Golden Retrievers, who were his best buddies. He never met a stranger and enjoyed visiting with people in the neighborhood who were out walking. He had the chance to go flying with a wonderful friend, take a ride-around at over 200 mph with a professional driver at the track in Talladega, watch the Champions Tour golfers play at Shoal Creek and Greystone. He visited the flight museum, McWayne Center, the Birmingham Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Barber Motor Sports, and Top Golf and was always on the go thanks to his wonderful and energetic friend, Tabitha. He stayed in great shape doing yoga with our sweet friend, Karen, and may have consumed more than a few ice cream cones at the Bluff Park Ice Cream Shoppe.
Wayne lived a full life, was always happy, eager to help, and ready to go and do whatever was on the agenda for the day. He enjoyed people more than anything.
Wayne will be buried on December 5 at the Alabama National Cemetery near Montevallo, Alabama, with his wife. He was proud of his military service in the Army, where he served at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and considered it a privilege to serve his country.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis Anne Burke and leaves behind his daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Michael Reitz and grandson, whom he adored, Christopher Veppert of North Canton, Ohio.