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Obituary: William Burke

Published in Naples Daily News on January 26, 2012

William Henry Burke Naples, FL

William Henry “Bill” Burke of Naples, FL and Plymouth, MA died peace fully Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at Physicians Regional Hospital, Naples, FL. Bill was 79, born January 4, 1933 in Clinton, MA a son of the late Walter and Grace (McLaughlin) Burke.

Mr. Burke was a veteran of the United States Army, where he served his time in Germany. After graduating from Notre Dame University in 1954, Bill was part of the 2nd generation to join his family’s business, Burke Distributing Corporation in Randolph, MA. He served as company president starting in 1975 after the passing of his father, Walter. Bill expanded the company to be one of the largest Miller wholesalers in the country. He was very instrumental with the launch of the Miller Lite brand, both in Boston and the Nation. He was also a successful real estate developer. Mr. Burke was a philanthropist, quietly donating to various charitable organizations. Then Mayor of Boston, Kevin White, named Tuesday, December 27, 1983 “William H. Burke Day”. William was named the ARC of Greater Boston Man of the Year in December of 1984. His hero, President Ronald Reagan, sent him a personal note of congratulations saying “because of your efforts, America is a better place in which to live”. He was also a boater and an avid golfer.

He is survived by his beloved wife of eight years, Elizabeth Ann (Pisani) Burke; loving children, Maura Burke of Boston, MA, William (Janene) Burke of Hingham, MA, Patrick (Wendy) Burke of Hingham, MA, Kathleen (David Zimmerman) Burke of Blue Hill, ME, Michael (Pamela) Burke of Hingham, MA, Sean Burke of Provincetown, MA, and Timothy (Andrea) Burke of Norwell, MA; step-children, Steven (Carolyn) Ruggiero of Greenwich, CT and Elizabeth Ruggiero of Chatham, MA; sister, Mary Grace (James) Hurley of Hingham, MA; and 18 cherished grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his brothers, Walter and Austin Burke.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, January 27, 2012 (TOMORROW) at 10:00 a.m. at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34134. Additional services and burial will be held in Plymouth. MA.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to Compassionate Care ALS, P.O. Box 1052, West Falmouth MA, 02574, (

Arrangements are being handled by Shikany’s Bonita Funeral Home.