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Saipan loses WWII veteran Robert Arthur Burke

JANESVILLE, Wisconsin (Press Release) — Robert Arthur Burke, age 91, of Janesville, Wisconsin passed peacefully early Wednesday morning, Sept. 27, 2017.

He was surrounded by his loving family in his son, Jim Burke’s, home who is a U.S. Army JROTC instructor at Kagman High School for the past 17 years and is a business owner of Friendly Market in San Jose, Saipan.

Robert Arthur Burke

Bob Burke was born on Nov. 2, 1925 in Virginia, MN. His family moved to Duluth, MN and then Cudahy, Wisconsin during the Great Depression.

Bob graduated from Cudahy High School in 1944. He served the entire World War II on Saipan.

Bob graduated from the Milwaukee State Teachers College in 1950 and received his master’s degree from UW-Madison in 1951. Bob was a teacher in the Janesville public school for 37.5 years. He was a man of boundless energy who worked hard all of his life. In addition to teaching elementary school, he coached many after-school sports; did janitorial work during school breaks; was a camp counselor during summer breaks; and delivered pizza evenings and weekends. He received many awards and accolades during his teaching career.

Bob loved life, loved to sing, loved to sail and loved to dance. Most of all, he loved his wife and eleven children. Bob always had a joke or poem for every conversational topic. He truly enjoyed expanding his worldly knowledge. After his retirement in 1990, Bob traveled to many foreign places. He always had a sparkle in his eye as he shared what he learned about different cultures and countries. Bob sang in church and community choirs throughout his life and enjoyed playing many musical instruments. He especially enjoyed singing and performing with the Troubadour Choir in his later years. Bob was a member of the Janesville Kiwanis Golden K for 12 years, the Janesville Eagles Club for 3 years a lifetime member of the Janesville VFW. His life motto was, “Be nice, be good, and don’t be stupid.”

Bob is preceded in death by his father, Robert Francis Burke, his mother, Jane Fisher Burke, two brothers, Richard and William Burke, a sister, Elaine Nault, his loving Wife of 52 years, Myrtle Eilene O’Kelly Burke, his son, John Edwin Burke and his son-in-law, Dennis Metzger.

Bob is survived by his sister, Genevieve Burke, ten children: Carrie (Gary) Glover, Patricia (Thomas) Schraeder, James (Apple) Burke, Michael Burke, Eilene (James) Shroeckenthaler, Holly Metzger, Adair (Richard) Moccero, Kathleen Burke, Susan (Timothy) Custer and Robert (Darcy) Burke and twenty-one grandchildren.

Bob returned to Saipan twice to visit his son James Burke and granddaughter who was born on Saipan. He always commented on how much Saipan has changed over the years to a beautiful wonderful island. He was last honored at the 70th Liberation Day on June 15, 2014 where he received the Saipan liberation medal from the governor of the CNMI.