William T. Burke
1926 - 2014
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William T. Burke

Professor William T. Burke, 87, of Seattle, Washington, died July 4, 2014 with his family by his side. He died of complications following heart surgery. Professor Burke was an internationally distinguished scholar serving on the faculty of both the UW School of Law and the UW School of Marine Affairs from 1968 to 1996. He was born in 1926 in Brazil, Indiana. After completing high school and a brief stint in the U.S. Army, he commenced his academic career by obtaining his Bachelor's Degree from Indiana State University, in 2.5 years and at the top of his class, followed by his law degree in 1953. He attended Yale Law School where he obtained his Doctorate in Juridical Science (JSD) degree in 1959. While at Yale, he met his wife, Feliciana, a fellow graduate student. Following the publication of his first book in 1962, Professor Burke was recognized as the outstanding authority on international law of the sea and remained a scholarly and policy leader on the world scene for many years. By his retirement, he had been widely published in over 300 law journals, served as an expert and lecturer throughout the world, influenced generations of professionals, and substantially shaped the law, policy, and many institutions related to the law of the ocean. In his retirement years, Professor Burke read voraciously, closely followed current events, and rooted for Seattle area sports teams. He was a committed husband, a dedicated father and was unwaveringly devoted to the well-being of his developmentally disabled daughter, Kathryn Burke, who preceded him in death. He also enjoyed the little things: his grandchildren's artwork, sweet local strawberries, and roses in full bloom, his view of the snowcapped Cascades, and the development and history of Magnuson Park, where he walked daily. Professor Burke is survived by his beloved spouse of 55 years; his children William V. Burke of Honolulu, HI and Liza E. Burke of Seattle, WA; his three grandchildren and his great grandson. A memorial will be held on August 10, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105. Memorial donations may be made to The Arc of King County or Banchero Disability Partners.

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Published in The Seattle Times on Jul. 13, 2014.
Memorial service
11:00 AM
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
March 3, 2019
Bill and Feli were two of the most wonderful people I ever met. I feel privileged to have been a friend and part of their lives for many years. They were both possessed of the finest qualities of human nature, were interested in everything, stayed engaged in life, and contributed positively to the lives of everyone they encountered. As saddened as I am by their passing, I know they are together and looking after us.
Martin, Seattle
August 11, 2014
Mary Rose Burke Hemminghouse
August 11, 2014
Mary Rose Burke Hemminghouse
July 25, 2014
It was my honor to be one of Bill's former students and graduate research assistants. He stepped in and provided me with financial assistance when I desperately needed it and helped me find my first job in the field of marine affairs. Throughout his life he remained available to me whenever I needed guidance, as I know he did for a generation of students who attended his LL.M. program at the University of Washington. I will remember Bill with profound fondness and respect and wish all who loved him my deepest condolences.
Richard McLaughlin
July 24, 2014
Although he probably did not know it, Professor Burke had an immense influence on my life and my career. He told me, "You cannot predict the opportunities you will be offered, but you can only take advantage of them if you are prepared for them." With his encouragement to prepare to pursue what I was most interested in, I launched on a career that has been personally very satisfying and always interesting. He was always warm and welcoming when I visited his office. He was just a very very decent man and terrific teacher.
Miranda Wecker
July 22, 2014
Bill Burke was a warm and generous man who was idolized by his young nieces and nephews. Uncle Bill's visits were joyously anticipated and his jokes and laughter made the occasions memorable. I felt especially lucky because he was also my godfather and I still treasure an anthology of stories from around the world that he gave me for my birthday. He was a very, very intelligent man with strongly held beliefs who enjoyed arguing politics and social issues. He will be greatly missed and often remembered fondly.
Anita Quiett
July 19, 2014
When the time comes, it is never easy. But it seems your Dad lived a life that most people would envy, and provided good memories to go on with you for all your life.
Charley Longo
July 14, 2014
I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Bill was someone who enriched many peoples' lives and I consider myself so fortunate to be one such person. We met through a mutual friend some years ago, and I treasure the opportunity Bill provided to tap into his vast knowledge and sage advice on marine affairs. I wish to express my deepest sympathy to his family and to his friends and colleagues.
Milton Freeman
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