15 West Ave. Spencerport, New York | 21 Main St. Churchville, New York
Obituary of Kathleen Ann Burke
Kathleen Ann Burke passed away peacefully Jan. 20, 2023. She was 95 and had lived a life filled with love, laughter and family.
Kathleen was born June 3, 1927 to Harold and Mary McDonald. She grew up in the Rochester region with her brothers, Gerard and Robert, and her sister, Frances. She graduated from Nazareth Academy in Rochester in 1945 and decided to become an art teacher. She studied first at Brockport State Teachers College and later at the Art Students League in Manhattan, where she lived with her sister, Frances, at the Three Arts Club.
Kathleen had a passion for the arts. In addition to drawing, she also played piano and violin. She was a member of the orchestra and chorus during her years in Brockport, and also once was selected to sing a solo for Bishop James E. Kearney, who was bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rochester at the time.
Vincent and Kathleen were married May 20, 1950 at St. Thomas Church in Irondequoit and made their home on the Burke family’s farm in Spencerport. They raised their three children – Judy, Michael and Christine – on the farm, on which Michael still works.
Although Kathleen did not grow up on a farm, she didn’t hesitate to pitch in and help out wherever she could. She learned to drive tractors and farm trucks even before she and Vincent were married. She didn’t complain about the work, even when she lost the diamond from her engagement ring in a hayfield.
Kathleen also worked outside the home at several retail establishments and car dealerships in the Rochester area. A devout Catholic, she was both a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport as well as a daily Mass-goer at St. Lawrence Parish in Greece for many years. Prayer was an important part of her daily life, and she spent much time each day praying for the intentions of family members and friends.
Kathleen was a creative soul. She was able to make anything she set her mind to and was eager to show her creations to her loved ones. She was resourceful and into “up-cycling” before it was trendy, turning household items into elegant centerpieces and worn-out work shirts into cozy pillows.
She loved do-it-yourself projects around the house and wasn’t afraid to try her hand at light construction projects and plumbing repairs. She also loved gardening and maintained a vegetable garden and fruit trees as well as many decorative plantings in her yard.
Kathleen and Vincent loved to travel and see different parts of the nation, and they brought their children on memorable family vacations to John Deere and Ford Motor Company factories. In later years she and Vincent took frequent camping trips in their RV. They brought their three oldest grandchildren on a handful of those trips. In 1995 they traveled to Ireland with their daughter, Christine and learned more about the family’s Irish heritage.
Never one to sit still, Kathleen was always on the go and even took aerobics classes with Christine. Even into her 80s, it wasn’t unusual to see her outside with her walker in one hand and a power tool in another.
Kathleen was never afraid to try new things, and she and Vincent even took flying lessons and considered getting their pilots’ licenses at one point. She was a lifelong learner. If an obstacle stood in the way of her caring for her family, she simply set out to learn everything there was to know about that subject in order to overcome the barrier.
Kathleen learned to use the Internet to research and communicate with others, and frequently exchanged instant messages with one of her granddaughters who was away at college. When Vincent faced health struggles, Kathleen devoted herself to learning how to care for him. Doctors frequently complimented her on the scope of her knowledge and her caregiving skills. She also applied her considerable skills to the couple’s Springer Spaniel, Holly, who lived to the ripe old age of 18.
Kathleen’s playful nature was well-known to her family members, who often joked that they couldn’t take her out to a restaurant without her playing with the items on the table (coffee creamers were a particular favorite). Even in her final years, she loved sitting at the kitchen table with family and playing makeshift games with Matchbox cars and paper balls.
Kathleen was predeceased by her parents, Harold and Mary McDonald; her brothers, Msgr. Gerard McDonald and Robert (Nancy) McDonald; her sister, Frances (Kaleel) Hadeed; and her husband, Vincent Burke. She is survived by her children, Judith Curtis, Michael (Carol) Burke, and Christine Burke; grandchildren, Jennifer (Michael) Congelli, Peter (Teri) Burke, Christopher (Erin) Burke, Michelle (Cameron) Bowers, Victoria (Joshua) Amyot, and Danielle Curtis; great-grandchildren, Isabella, Scarlett, Samantha and Vincent Congelli; Warren and Carolynn Burke; Wyatt and Luke Burke; Sydney Amyot; and Melayna and Callie; and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Calling hours for Kathleen will take place Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023 from 4-7 p.m. at Walker Brothers Funeral Home, 15 West Ave. in Spencerport. Kathleen’s funeral will take place Monday, Jan. 30 at 9:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church, 55 Martha St. in Spencerport.
Memorial contributions in Kathleen’s memory may be directed to St. John the Evangelist Church.