Dearest Church Family and Friends,
With a heavy, heavy heart I write to share the death of my step-father and beloved Union Church member, Kevin Burke. Kevin died suddenly and unexpectedly at home last night (Friday) from a cardiac arrest or embolism. There was no indication of illness, nor was he having any physical problems. Carla found him unresponsive after running errands for 30 minutes after dinner. Despite immediately beginning CPR and the intervention of wonderful EMTs and hospital staff, he was gone. He was 63 years old.
Needless to say we are all devastated. Kevin was not only a stalwart and tireless worker at the church, he also volunteered numerous places around town. In addition to his yeoman service on Community Life and Growth, Kevin frequently volunteered to cook for the masses: cookouts, BBQs, the Burger Bash, and hundreds of Wednesday Night Live dinners. He was also on the front line of welcoming anyone and everyone who came to services. He loved music, both as an appreciator and participant and was a faithful member of the Union Church Handbell Ensemble for most of his years in Berea. His hospitality was legendary and entirely sincere. I don’t know that I have every met a kinder man. Whether it was remembering someone’s loss with a gentle card, or baking a pie for a birthday celebration, Kevin was constant in his quiet care.
Kevin’s primary work was as a nuclear propulsion plant specialist, maintaining ships and submarines alike in the Navy. If his taste for strong coffee, a good story, and a wee dram wasn’t the result of his naval career, it was certainly reinforced by it. His favorite posting was on the west coast of Scotland where he connected deeply to his Celtic heritage and learned the fine art of hosting superb Robert Burns celebrations.
He and my mother met while she was serving as pastor of Pocatello United Church of Christ, in Idaho where Kevin grew up and had retired to after his service in the US Navy. They married in 1998, and knowing that they were marrying late in life, decided to celebrate “month-aversaries,” not just anniversaries. Kevin’s “slow and steady” has been a perfect complement to Carla’s high-revving engines, and most of all they enjoyed each other’s interest in life and care for others.
To my brother and me he was as kind and loving and considerate as ever a step-parent could be. He embraced us, in all our idiosyncrasies and adolescent charms, as a joyful part of loving our mother. He was always ready to help, to go out of his way to make a difference, and to meet needs before they were even voiced. This sweet spirit, who loved cats and baseball and all of you, will be dearly, dearly missed.
Kevin wished to be cremated but no definite arrangements have been decided. We are notifying other family and friends and will schedule a memorial service in the very near future. I would certainly be grateful for your prayers for my mother, Carla, and for all of Kevin’s close-held friends. The only force great enough to absorb such a shock as a sudden death is the love of those close and the love of a Compassionate God, the God Kevin served with all his heart, and mind, and soul.
With that to sustain us, Kevin himself would remind us with Julian of Norwich’s words that “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” And so we pray it will be. Well done, good and faithful servant. May you enter into the joy of your master.
In sorrow and gratitude,