Pat Burke -- an irreplaceable part of our history

Pat Burke -- an irreplaceable part of our historyJames P. “Pat” Burke, who freely shared his passion for local history and who made a lot of that history himself, left this world to meet Jesus on June 1, 2013. He passed quietly surrounded by his family. He was 76.

Memorial services will be held at Grace?Point Church, 443. W. Inyokern Rd., on Monday, June 10, at 10 a.m.

Pat was born in Bell, Calif., on Aug. 24, 1936, to Moneta and Jim Burke. He moved to Ridgecrest in 1944 at age 7 when his father started Burke Meat Market. Pat attended Ridgecrest Elementary School and Burroughs High School, graduating in 1954.

Pat lived a full life and was always up for an adventure with his buddies from school. Ask anyone who ran with him to tell you a story, then be prepared to sit back and hear a whopper.

Pat was self-employed much of his life, starting out by working behind the counter in his parents’ market, then taking on delivery service for Meadow Gold, then Challenge Dairy and then Manfulls Dairy in the 1950s and 1960s.

He died just two days before the 50th anniversary of a memorable moment in his life — the day President John F. Kennedy visited here. Pat wanted to be on the motorcade route so badly that he hurried through his deliveries then raced on the base, still in his milkman’s uniform.

He got to a spot on Blandy Street just as the presidential limo drove by and was able to get his handshake with the president despite Secret Service attempts to hold him back.

Pat also owned the BBQ Pit and Pat & Charlie’s A Go-Go, which Merle Haggard liked to frequent when he was in the area.

In the 1970s Pat was an owner of Sierra Toyota and Fiat, then became a real-estate broker and partner with Jim Poore and Bob Duguid at Ace Realty.

He went on to own Better Homes and Garden Realty in the 1980s. He later sold that business and went into semi-retirement with his wife Mary Ann, who then retired after 30 years as an RN and nursing supervisor at Drummond Medical Group. He and Mary Ann spent as much time as possible with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, their pride and joy.

After he sold that business, he went on to work at several other real-estate offices in town. He always took great pride in caring for his clients’ needs and made sure they were getting a home they could really afford so that they would be able to enjoy their future in their new home.

In the early 1990s, Pat tried to retire but became restless and went to work for Schwan’s food delivery service, building routes for not just the Ridgecrest area but also several regions in California, from Bishop to as far south as Acton.

He truly enjoyed interacting with people and had a real knack for sales. In typical Pat fashion, he could not quite give up working and ended up transporting merchandise and tires for his good friend Mike McGee every couple of months back and forth to Bishop where he could always find time to visit with his friend from school days and for life, Troy Oney.

Pat was an outgoing, friendly and gregarious person who made the most out of his life. Not one moment was wasted as he enjoyed every bit of what life threw his way.

He is already missed very much by his family, as we know he loved us fiercely.

Pat is survived by his wife of 43 years, Mary Ann Burke; sons Gary and wife Kim Burke, and Mike Burke of Ridgecrest; grandchildren, Amber and husband Mike Cook of Lacey, Wash., Jarrett and wife Jodi Burke, Daniel Burke and Jennifer Burke of Ridgecrest; great-grandchildren Alexandra, Eilah, Olivia and Rhaya Cook of Lacey Wash., and Rick, Malia, Lilly and Jackson Burke of Ridgecrest; sister, Dolores Brown of Ridgecrest; Niece Marie and husband Jeremy Rand and great nephew Ian Rand of Moore Park.

He was preceded in death by his parents Jim and Moneta, son Pat Jr., and niece Dawn Zimmer.

Story First Published: 2013-06-05