Walter F. Burke ’40, Brunswick alumnus, parent, former chairman of the Board of Trustees, and tremendous friend of the School, died in Greenwich on Thursday, November 1, at the age of 96.
Mr. Burke is survived by his beloved wife of 76 years, Constance (Connie) Morse Burke.
Mr. Burke, father of Bonnie, Wally ’67, Diane, Douglas ’74, and Nancy P ’08, served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1963–1979 and as chairman from 1974–1979.
Mr. Burke graduated from Brunswick School in 1940.
Having served his country with the United States Navy during World War II, Mr. Burke received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College after returning from duty in the Pacific.
Following law school at Columbia University and a brief tenure at Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft, Mr. Burke worked as the chief legal and financial advisor for Sherman Fairchild, the inventor and entrepreneur responsible for Fairchild Camera and Fairchild Engine, as well as Fairchild Semiconductor.
Mr. Burke succeeded Fairchild as Chairman of the Board of the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation, and served on the board of the Sherman Fairchild Foundation for more than 50 years, including 35 years as president.
In 1979, Mr. Burke honored his father — who played an instrumental role in Brunswick’s advancement in the late 1930s — by placing his name on the newly constructed Maher Avenue gymnasium. When plans were unveiled to transform Burke Gymnasium into a theater in 2004, Mr. Burke secured funding from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation for the construction of the Burke Field House on King Street.
As Board Chairman, Mr. Burke actively worked to transform Brunswick — accelerating academic programming, building endowment, renovating antiquated facilities, and acquiring faculty housing.
Mr. Burke was honored with the Brunswick School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.
Mr. Burke also served on the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College, Columbia University, the Morgan Library, California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Library, Union Theological Seminary, and the Metropolitan Museum.
Mr. Burke and his wife were the proud grandparents of nine grandchildren, including Drew Tunney ’08, and 12 great-grandchildren.
“Walter Burke was one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Headmaster Thomas W. Philip said. “He was a force for good for Brunswick School and so many other schools and organizations, giving so much of his time and energy for the benefit of the places and people he loved so much.
“We will forever be indebted to Walter and his wonderful family.”