Obituary — Jack Burke

Jack Burke Jack Burke, a lifelong tunneler and friend to many in the industry, passed away on Sunday, July 5, 2015. He was 90.

As a teenager, Burke signed up for World War II and served his country in the U.S. Navy for four years. After his stint in the Navy, Jack returned to private life in Brooklyn where he returned to school to get his degree. He then went to work for Walsh Construction Co. on the Delaware Aqueduct and the American Bridge Co. before moving on the Gardner-Denver Co., where he worked from 1951-1980.

At Gardner-Denver Burke designed equipment and methods for underground drilling operations in North America and internationally. He then became President, Sullair Mining Equipment Corp., Dallas, Texas, which designed and manufactured underground drilling equipment.  When Sullair was sold to Cooper Industries, Burke became the General Manager of Cooper Mining and Construction, in Roanoke, Virginia. Burke retired from Cooper in 1988, forming Jack Burke & Associates.

In addition to his consulting firm, Burke wrote for various trade publications, including founding the Project Update for TBM: Tunnel Business Magazine. He was also known for his Hard Rock News column, a kind of diary of his travels to jobsites and tunneling events across the country. He also authored a short book of stories, mostly from the 30s, 40s and 50s, titled “Tunnel Stiff’s Tales.”

“Jack was enthusiastic and passionate about the tunneling industry and was a regular at all the major events,” said Jim Rush, editor and publisher of TBM. “He always had time to talk and share stories, and was well-liked by all who knew him.”

Burke was an Honorary Lifetime Member of AUA (forerunner of the UCA of SME), received the Golden Beaver Award for Heavy Engineering Construction in 1992, and was made a Moles Lifetime Member in 2002.

Burke is survived by his wife of 34 years, Shirley J. Burke; children, Shane Burke, Chads Ford, Pennsylvania, Brian Burke and wife Karen, Sammamish, Washington; step-son, Bobby Cannon and wife, Tina, Peachtree City, Georgia; Jeffrey Cannon, Newton, New Jersey; grandchildren, Jeffrey Cannon, Jessica Cannon, Colin Cannon, Haley Burke, Chris Mahr; sister, Bunny Edison and several nieces and nephews.

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