Note: This article was updated on 2/23/18 to include final service arrangements.
It is with deep sadness that we inform the Williamson community of the passing on Feb. 17 of Franklin Burke, a retired member of our Board of Trustees who was the long-term treasurer and the retired president and CEO of Burke, Lawton, Brewer & Burke.
President Michael Rounds said, “It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of our former trustee and dear friend Frank Burke. Frank was one of Williamson’s most generous financial supporters through many years. Often this support was provided quietly during tough financial times. He never sought recognition for his many gifts, he was just happy to assist as needed. During his 28 years as treasurer of the board, he used his vast knowledge of finance and investment to expertly manage our main endowment and safeguard the financial future of Williamson. We can never adequately thank him for all that he has done for Williamson – he will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and the rest of his family.”
Mr. Burke served as treasurer of Williamson’s Board of Trustees from 1981 to 2009, using his vast knowledge of finance and investing to manage the school’s main endowment. He also served as chairman of the Finance Committee. He was unanimously voted the honor of trustee emeritus upon his retirement from the board.
He was one of Williamson’s most generous financial supporters and often gave behind the scenes because he wanted to help the school and not get recognition for himself. The benefits of his generosity can be seen across campus.
In 1992, he received the board’s Isaiah V. Williamson Award and in 2002, he received the Alumni Association’s first ever Honorary Alumnus of the Year. Earlier, he had been made an honorary member of the Alumni Association and was made an honorary member of the Class of 4W7.
Mr. Burke spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force, beginning as an aircraft commander flying multi-engine planes at Harlingen Air Force Base in Texas. He then became chief of the contract management office at the American Embassy in London, England. While there, he met the late Thomas N. Lawton (father of Williamson trustee John Lawton), who was also serving in the Air Force. The two co-founded Burke, Lawton, Brewer & Burke, an investment management firm, in 1964. While in the Air Force, he earned a master’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado and studied advanced economics at the London School of Economics.
He was well known by his clients for his disciplined, patient, and protective approach to investing and his kind and thoughtful demeanor. He knew from a young age that he would work in the investment industry. When he was 18, he bought a gas station in Manhattan, Kan., and used the profits to put himself through Kansas State University where he earned a bachelor of science degree in finance.
Mr. Burke had a long-standing history of financial management service to business and the community, including serving on the board of directors of a number of corporations throughout the United States.
Over the years, he ran Venture Securities Corp., an investment management business he founded in 1971; was on the board of directors of Abraxas Petroleum Co., San Antonio, Texas; the board of trustees of Lancaster Theological Seminary, in Lancaster; and the board of the Kansas State University Foundation.
Community service was always a high priority to him. He was a strong supporter of the Pleasantville United Church of Christ in Chalfont, PA. He started the Cedarcrest Charitable Foundation to provide financial support to a wide range of organizations with a demonstrated need for funding and a plan for producing a mission-driven return on the investment. He also bought the Omega Institute in Camden, NJ, to help people who couldn’t afford college get a vocational education and turned the failing school into a success story.
***UPDATED 2/23/18 – Service Arrangements
Williamson is holding a service in Franklin Burke’s honor at 1 PM, Friday, April 13, in the Clara Schrenk Memorial Chapel in Rowan Hall.
There will be visitations and a memorial service at Pleasantville United Church of Christ, 3424 Limekiln Pike, Chalfont, PA 18914 (phone: 215 822-2293):
Visitation—5:30-7 PM, Friday, April 13
Visitation— 9-11 AM, Saturday, April 14
Memorial Service—11 AM, Saturday, April 14
A reception will follow the Memorial Service, from 1:30-4:30 PM, Saturday, April 14, at Normandy Farms and Conference Center, 1401 Morris Road Blue Bell, PA 19422 (phone: 215 616-8500)
The family is requesting donations be made in his honor to Williamson College of the Trades, 106 South New Middletown Road, Media, PA 19063
To send Elizabeth Burke a card:
13373 N. Plaza Del Rio Blvd. #1141
Peoria, AZ 85381