William Billy Burke

William 'Billy' Burke

SALISBURY - Mr. William "Billy" Preston Burke, 95, of Salisbury passed away Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 at the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks.

Born Sept. 30, 1917 in Salisbury, as the sixth child of Effie Jane Stone and Robert Pickney Burke, he was a graduate of Boyden High and attended Catawba College. Billy served in the U.S. Army during WWII for 4 years. He worked as Employment Manager at NC Finishing Company for 30 years and later at Zimmerman's Department Store for 19 years.

Mr. Burke was a member of First United Methodist Church and the Golden Rule Sunday School Class for more than 70 years. He was a member of the Salisbury Rotary Club and the club pianist for over 40 years. Mr. Burke was named Salisbury's Young Man of the Year in 1952 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He served as President of the South Atlantic Council of Industrial Editors, the Salisbury Symphony Society, the Salisbury Jaycees, and the Carolina Bridge Association. He served on the Board of Directors for the Piedmont Players and on the Board of the Salisbury Chapter of the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. Mr. Burke had attained the rank of Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League and directed the local Bridge Club at the Salisbury Woman's Club.

Mr. Burke started taking piano lessons at age 9 and was playing the piano for a Sunday School class at age 15. He was known throughout Salisbury for the joy and vivre expressed in the music he played all over town. For many years he played the piano at the Holiday Inn for Sunday brunch. He played the piano at many church parties, weddings, concerts, minstrels, civic clubs, as an accompanist for singers on the radio and television, as the official pianist for the Miss Salisbury beauty pageants and several talent contestants at state pageants. He was often called "Salisbury's Mr. Music".

Surviving Mr. Burke are many nieces and nephews.

Visitation: Visitation will be from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 in the Stanback Room at First United Methodist Church.

Services: A funeral service will be held 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 at First United Methodist Church, conducted by Rev. Rhonda Hermann, Associate Minister of First United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at Chestnut Hill Cemetery.

Memorials: Memorials may be made to Billy Burke Endowment Fund at Catawba College, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144 or to the First United Methodist Church, 217 S. Church St., Salisbury, NC 28144.

Summersett Funeral Home is serving the Burke family. Online condolences may be made at www.summersettfuneralhome.com.

Published in Salisbury Post on Feb. 8, 2013