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Walter ‘Joe’ BURKE

Walter ‘Joe’  BURKE

Passed on: July 21st, 2017

It is with great sadness and heart break that we, Tommy, Robert and Jo-Ann, announce the peaceful and dignified passing of our amazing Dad, (Walter) Joe Burke, 80, of River Ryan on Friday, July 21, 2017 at New Waterford Consolidated Hospital surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Lingan, he was the son of the late Walter and Tessie (Tighe) Burke. Joe was predeceased by his loving wife of 33 years, Leona (Boutilier) Burke.
Dad’s career started in the coal mines at the age of 16 and he worked for 40 years. During this time he had many accomplishments. He was elected as President of Lingan Local 1888 United Mine Workers of America; simultaneously he served as County Counsellor for District 5 for 16 years. Dad then served as safety coordinator for UMWA for a period of two years. Dad then ran for district president to represent over 3000 miners and was elected and served for 8 years as district president for the UMWA before retirement. In addition Dad was a Third Degree Knight for the Knights of the Columbus, and a member of the Army Navy branch 217 of New Waterford. He sang with various choirs including St. Michaels, Mount Carmel and the prestigious Men of the Deeps. He was appointed chairmen of the Unemployment Appeals Board, and a board member of the New Waterford Credit Union as well as President of the Horseman’s Association. He was a member on the first parish council in the Diocese as well as a member of the St. Michaels Parish Men’s Club.
Dad gave his life to labour, those less fortunate and the oppressed. He was very personable, charismatic, a leader and a legendary labour activist. He never failed to voice his opinion and stand up for people’s rights. He was very diplomatic and candidly raw when delivering his point of view. Dad was an integral part of automatic assumption black lung legislation where he lobbied the Buchanan government to get the bill passed and into the legislation and ironically the same disease he succumbed to. He loved spending his time hunting, fishing, bowling, playing horseshoes and camping with his family and friends. Dad also loved to spend his winters in Florida with his companion Minnie and the family of friends that were there. Joe also treated Minnie’s Children, Aubrey, Kim and Jamie as if they were his own.
Dad cherished the bond he shared with his seven grandchildren. He was always present for all of their concerts, sporting events and graduations as he took pride in all their activities and accomplishments. Summertime around “Poppy’s Pool” would find everyone gathered with family and friends. Dad took great pride in watching the children learn to swim, dive, and enjoy each other’s company.
Joe is survived by his three children, Tommy (Cathy), Robert (Sherry) and Jo-Ann (Tracy), and his seven grandchildren, Melissa (Matt), Devon, Alicia (Kyle), Chad, Allie (Paul), Katelyn and Matthew; brothers, Eldon (Rhodena), Gerald (Joanie), Bernie (Carmel), Danny (Maureen) and Patrick (Patricia); sisters, Mary, (John ‘Curly’ MacNeil-deceased), Theresa, Vange (Daniel Wareham-deceased); sisters-in-law, Anna (Buddy) Abraham, Geraldine ‘Boots’ (Peter) MacKinnon, Vicky (Russell-deceased) Boutilier, and his brother-in-law, Raymond (Frances-deceased) Boutilier. Joe is also survived by his loving companion of 25 years, Celina ‘Minnie’ (Webb) Gottwald.
Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of V.J. McGillivray Funeral Home, 380 Smith St., New Waterford. Visitation will take place Thursday, July 27 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A Funeral Mass of celebration will be held on Friday, July 28, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Parish Church of St. Leonard, Mount Carmel Avenue, with Father Ray Huntley officiating.
Burial will be in St. Michael's Cemetery, River Ryan, with a luncheon to follow at the K.O.C Hall, New Waterford. The K.O.C will meet on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the funeral home for a prayer service.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations in Joe’s Memory may be made to Cape Breton Cancer Center.
Online condolences to the family can be expressed at www.vjmcgillivary.ca.


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