Richard "Dick" Burke
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Richard "Dick" Burke, the founder of best-selling bicycle-maker, Trek Bicycle Corp., has died.

Burke died Monday night at a Milwaukee hospital from complications from heart surgery, said his son, John Burke, the company's president. He was 73.

In 1976, Richard Burke founded the company in a red barn in Waterloo, Wis., about 30 miles east of Madison.

Trek is known among cyclists for making the bikes that Lance Armstrong rode in his Tour de France victories. Those models feature carbon fiber frames and can sell for thousands of dollars.

The company - known for brands including Trek, Gary Fisher, Klein and Greg LeMond - sells 1.5 million bikes a year and does $700 million in sales.

"He always wanted to build the best bicycle company in the world and he did it," John Burke said.

Burke was born in Chicago in 1934 and moved to Milwaukee when he enrolled at Marquette University. After graduating he worked for several companies including an appliance distribution business. During the bike craze in the 1970s, he realized there was a need for a higher-end builder of bikes in the U.S., his son said, because all the bikes in that segment were imports.

He couldn't find any brands to distribute himself, so he started Trek. Although his background was in finance and credit, he decided to take the risk, his son said.

"Every time he saw a Trek, he smiled," John Burke said. "He took a lot of pride in Trek."

Burke told in an interview in July 2006 that the company built its first bike plant in 1980 and three years later sales were around $20 million.

"Some years we made money, some years we lost," he told the magazine. "Everyone looked on it as Dick Burke's Tonka toy."

John Burke said the business went through some tough years but by the mid 1980s, it took off.

It has gained fame among riders for its partnership with Armstrong. Burke said his father was in France for Armstrong's first Tour de France victory.

The company now has a network of more than 5,000 dealers worldwide and 1,600 employees. The majority of its manufacturing is done in Wisconsin, with production of lower-end bikes in Asia.

Burke was an avid runner who competed in five New York City Marathons and three Boston Marathons, his son said. But later in life he rode his bike quite a bit.

Burke is survived by his wife Camille, five children and nine grandchildren.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

Published by Foster's Daily Democrat on Mar. 11, 2008.
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28 Entries
Valenda Newell
January 1, 2017
Hello Camille,
Sorry to be oh so late in recognizing the passing of Dick, but I was only made aware of it days ago by my friend and former co-worker Freddie at the Gifford Youth Activity Center.

Dick and you were of the greatest benefit tot he children of the Center and we truly appreciate all that you both did for us.

Best wishes.
Michael Hubler
Executive Director
South Brevard Sharing Center
17 E. Hibiscus Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901
321-727-8581 ext. 208
Michael Hubler
September 14, 2009
Although I do not know him personally. He is very encouraging. He showed me that all you have to do is have an idea, and a willingness to work, you can achieve great things. The greatest thing we can ever achieve is life itself. Something not far off from us.

God Word fortells, "[God will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore." - Reveleation 21:3,4
July 23, 2008
Verysorry to hear about Dick's passing. I was a buddy of Dick at York H.S. Elmhurst, Illinois. I attended his wedding in Wisconsin. My deep sympathy to his wife and family. I have informed all his friends from York of Dick's passing. We were anticipating Dick coming to our 50th, then 55th reunion. Now we understand is not being able to attend in October.
Lloyd Serfling
March 24, 2008
I worked closely with Dick for ten years beginning in 1977. I started, in retrospect, knowing nothing and left, thanks to Dick, knowing something.

Most interesting for me was Dick's year at MIT during which time we began our Baker Bros. adventure starting with open market purchases of a very thinly held stock; helped to nurture Trek through through the growing pains all manufacturers experience and dealt with a computer crash of epic proportions. "You're going to have to solve this one", Dick said.

At his best there was nobody more charming or charismatic than Dick Burke. Dick also had a fierce loyalty to former employees and associates, especially towards those who had experienced hard times.
Stu Beattie
March 21, 2008
When I ride my Trek this day I will thank Dick Burke whom I met briefly in 1976 in the red barn.
david balkin
March 18, 2008
Dear Camille, Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I feel I know you and Dick thru Mary and Gary. May God's peace be with you now. You and Dick are loved by many!
Barb Thornton
March 16, 2008
I am one of the many recipients of Dick's legacy of generosity as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University. Last I heard Dick was on the upswing of a recovery from his open heart surgery so the news of his passing has hit me as harsh as a bitter Milwaukee winter. I haven't been in the loop on the Trinity Fellows listserve since I recently changed my e-mail address to gmail.

But I never lost touch with Dick. It gives me a much-needed chuckle remembering Dick's last e-mail to me imploring me to "tell an old man" why he should change to g-mail. Ever the inquisitive businessman, he wanted me to make a case for him. In the end, it seemed less important to make a business case on the cost of inconvenience for the benefit of a slicker e-mail provider. It was more important that we catch up on each other's comings & goings of late. We swapped thoughts on the YMCA, where I now work, and discussed some recent politics and religion followed up with some jokes.

Though I can never reconcile how I was blessed enough to find myself on his balance sheet of philanthropic investments as a Trinity Fellow, I will always work to ensure that I am a very tiny entry in the Assets column rather than the Liabilities of Dick Burke's life. His investment will pay dividends as we live out his dream to infuse business acumen into the do-gooder nonprofits we serve. His heart needs no business case: it beats on in our infinite treks at Marquette and beyond.

I'll be making the TREK up to MKE from Kansas City, where I now live, to say goodbye to Dick and celebrate his life. I wouldn't miss it.

Dick's trek to heaven gives me great comfort as we miss him so.
Molly Turner
March 15, 2008
I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Burke in person but I am eternally grateful to be a recipient of a very prestigious scholarship that Mr. Burke funds. I wish I could have thanked him in person for this wonderful opportunity. Mr. Burke is changing my life, and with the education I am receiving, I hope to one day leave behind a legacy that Mr. Burke would be proud of. Thank you Mr. Burke and The Trinity Foundation for changing the lives of so many people in your community.
Natasha Smet
March 15, 2008
March 15, 2008
Dick purchased Baker Bros. (now Baker Distributing) in Jacksonville, Florida in the 1980's and owned it through the 1990's. Sometimes the "northerners" and "southerners" didn't see eye-to-eye but through hard work and dedication everyone benefited from that association. Dick will be missed.
Edwina Hughes
March 14, 2008
Richard H. Herrick
March 14, 2008
March 13, 2008
March 13, 2008
I never met him but I loved my Trek.

Trek bikes got me back into riding. I
had my Trek 730 for 10 years until I was hit by a car while riding it.

That was the end of the bike and almost the end of me. I did not ride again until about 15 months later.

I purchased another brand for my road bike but I would still like to get another Trek hybrid or mountain bike. I was in Annapolis yesterday and checked out a few.

There is nothing like a Trek.
John Bartelloni
March 13, 2008
I am very glad for the life of this man. Yes, I have aTrek and it is a great bike. Biking is good.
kay merrick
March 13, 2008
My sympathy to Dick's family and friends. I worked with Dick for more than half my life and remember all of those years fondly. I learned a lot because he taught well. He will be missed.
John Knopp
March 13, 2008
Thomas Widgeon
March 13, 2008
Richard H. Herrick
March 13, 2008
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." ~H.G. Wells

God bless you Mr. Burke for your contribution to the betterment of people everywhere.
Jerry Bedwell
March 12, 2008
While you are mourning the loss of a loved one, others are rejoicing to meet them behind the veil.
Susan H
March 12, 2008
March 12, 2008
May the God of Comfort be with the family and friends. You can rest asure that Jehovah's promise by means of his son Jesus Christ will be fufilled. Revelation 21:3,4 "He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more, the former things have passed away."
Wani B
March 12, 2008
sory to hear bad news.
Jean &Henry Lee
March 12, 2008
March 12, 2008
As a bike fan, I am saddened by this lost. I have owned many Trek's and always admired the skill that comes in creating a great bike. Condolences to the Burke Family.
Rita Young-Riggs
March 12, 2008

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

By Christina Rossetti
The Poetry Foundation

March 11, 2008
It was truely an privledge to have worked with dick at the hospital on his rehab. He will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ken Ludlow
March 11, 2008
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