1919 - 2015
Edmund “Ed” Charles Burke, M.D., of Rochester, died peacefully of natural causes on Tuesday, May 13, after a brief admission to Mayo Clinic Hospital — Saint Marys Campus. Ed was 95 years old and was over the past years lovingly cared for at home by wife of 18 years, Clarice.
Ed was born Nov. 23, 1919, in Fargo, N.D., and frequently moved during his childhood until settling in St. Paul and attending St. Thomas Military Academy. He attended the College of St. Thomas as an undergraduate and studied medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. During his military service from 1947-1948, he was the chief of Outpatient Services at West Point in New York. His career at Mayo began in 1948 as a fellow in pediatrics, and he was invited to join the faculty in 1951, and he joined the emeritus staff after 34 years of service.
In his professional life as a pediatric nephrologist, Ed’s accomplishments were numerous. He contributed to more than 100 publications while on staff of the Mayo Department of Pediatrics, was a professor in the Mayo Medical School, sat on the Medical School Admissions Committee and represented Mayo staff on several Health Exchange Programs between the U.S. and Russia, having become proficient in Russian language. Dr. Burke was president of the Irish-American Pediatric Society, Chairman of Minnesota Pediatric Society, Delegate Chair of the American Academy of Pediatric Society (AAP) for 10 years and was the AAP delegate to the American Medical Association (AMA) for more than 15 years. His highest honor was receiving the AMA and AAP joint award for service to children, the Jacobi Award, conferred to him in 1997 through the nomination of his peers. Dr. Burke was also dedicated to pediatric outreach and provided care to communities throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas supporting well baby clinics.
Writing was Ed’s passion and was recognized in the community for his “Healthy Kids” column in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, advocating for the literacy of parents and others who care for children and teens. He was editor-in-chief of Minnesota Medicine, editor of the Emeritus Quarterly Newsletter, on the editorial board for the Mayo Clinic Health Letter and co-authored “How to get from cradle to empty nest (without going crazy).” His competency for writing this was in raising his nine children with his first wife of 51 years, Beatrice “Beebe” Burke.
Community service was also of primary importance to Ed, who through the years was a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts and taught catechism for St. John’s Parish. But central to his contribution to Rochester was the Rotary Club, where he served as president and was co-founder of Rochester Rotary II and also wrote and edited the Moccasin Flower newsletter for some years. He rarely missed a Thursday meeting!
Many who knew Ed well will remember his wonderful sense of humor (and Torvald jokes), his love for telling a tale and performing skits and his love for music, singing in the Rochester Chorale (and in musicals in his youth), playing the banjo, harmonica and the ukulele. His children also fondly recall his silly antics dancing around the house with his ukulele, playing banjo in the garage and entertaining the pediatric patients in the St Mary’s pediatric ward with his own children in tow. He cherished his time at Lake Pepin, sailing, gardening and working on cars with his sons. His reference to family events was marked by what automobile corresponded to that year!
Ed is survived by his wife, Clarice; his sister, Mary Schaaf, of St. Paul; and his children, Ed Jr. “Buzz” Burke (Nancy), of Pagosa Springs, Colo., Timothy (Sheila) Burke, of Minneapolis, Jay (Kathy) Burke, of Rochester, Kathy (Tim) Phillips, of Sea Island, Ga., Margaret (Russ) Hinz, of Rochester, and Mary (John) Uhlenhopp, of Zug, Switzerland. He has 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and an additional four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren by marriage.
Ed was preceded in death by his wife, Beebe, and children, Barbara, Patricia, and Thomas, and his brother, John, and sister, Francis.
The memorial Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 18, at St. Johns the Evangelist Catholic Church, Rochester. Visitation is from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in his honor are preferred to the Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center.
Macken Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences are welcome at mackenfuneralhome.com.