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William Alden Burke

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William Alden Burke Notice
Burke, William Alden "" Bill Burke Major General, US Army, Retired. Hail and farewell. William Alden Burke died easefully at his home on Tuesday 7 May 2013. Over his 92 years of life and leading, his standards, decency, exploratory bravado, and charm unfailingly compelled so many - troops and family, poker players and golfers, colleagues and friends worldwide. Born in Oklahoma in 1921, he graduated from Oklahoma Military Academy in 1942 - and immediately assumed command in Germany of a platoon. Young in age if not in will, he led its also young men with remarkable judgment and bravery. Thirty-five following years in the Army revealed manifest ability and leadership. In 1965 he was the youngest new general in the army and by 1970 he attained the two-star rank of Major General. He served with unwavering commitment - to role, country, and service - in World War II, in Belgium and Germany; in the Korean War, in which his bold undercover gambits were revealed only 50 years later; and in the Vietnam War, in which he commanded the 4th Infantry Division, the largest field unit in that conflict. He was awarded three Silver Stars for bravery, two in WW II and the third - unusual, for reflecting a general directly engaged with his troops - in Vietnam. The Silver Star is the third-highest award for bravery in combat given by the United States military, presented for exceptional valor and acts of heroism performed with marked distinction. Mission and embassy postings revealed equally deft diplomacy and international trust building, in London, Athens, and Ankara. With his wife of 67 years, Martha Jane Burke, he brought to places and people a fine combination of intellect, discipline, and charm. To her and his two sons he brought standards and passion uniquely merged - a fine and constantly loving teacher, partner, husband, and father. He showed and lived dignity as well as the conviction that we must always do well and do right. Have we known many others who could move so nicely from analysis to help, from listening to improving, from stern look to captivating smile? Do we know many who are simply brave however and whenever? His wife Jane died in December of 2012 and his son Michael Mario in January 2007. He is survived by his son Steven, with partner Randy Campbell, of Hillsborough North Carolina. His remains will join those of Jane and Mike in the memorial garden of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Hillsborough. Bill's final years were graced and improved by the presence of loving caregivers from Florida Hospital Home Care Services. His last weeks were eased also by Hospice of the Comforter; donations to its exceptional and compassionate work are welcome in his name. A memorial service with military honors will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday 18 May at Wekiva Presbyterian Church, 211 Wekiva Springs Road, Longwood.
Published in the Orlando Sentinel on May 12, 2013
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