Jane Burke

Obituary of Jane M. Burke

Jane Farrar McIlwain Burke died peacefully on September 14, 2023 with family at her side. Born in New York City in 1934, she was 89 years old. Jane was raised in New York City and Harrison, NY. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from St. Lawrence University where she was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Following college in the mid-1950's, she bravely hitchhiked through Europe with a cousin before settling into a career in the travel business with American Express in New York, Denver and San Francisco. Returning to New York City, she met William A. Burke, whom she married in 1960. Son Andrew was born the next year. Bill's job took them to Miami Florida, where son Scott was born, and then five years later to Glenview, Illinois, in suburban Chicago, where they finally settled and raised their family. Jane enjoyed her professional life in the travel business, and extensively travelled the world by air and sea, including crossing the Atlantic on the QE2 on multiple occasions. Genealogy was a strong interest, and she delighted in the company of her sprawling Irish relations. As a compassionate person, she volunteered for adoption and hospice agencies. Her life-long passions were music and art. She attended the symphony and opera regularly and sat transfixed as the beauty of the music swept over her. She delighted in giving the gift of music to her children and grandchildren. But most of all, she loved the ocean and the beach. Her favorite book was Anne Morrow Lindbergh's A Gift From the Sea, dog-eared and underlined by her bedside. On Squirrel Island in Maine, she was a known fixture sunning on the rocks by the sea for hours on end, to the astonishment of passing tour boats. And at her winter residence in Naples, Florida, she was the "Queen of the Beach," refusing to come in from the sand until every last moment of daylight faded. Sunsets ruled her life, her dining schedule, her choice of homes. Being on the family motorboat with her husband, and then her sons, was her happy place. Jane was the doting grandmother of legend. She loved to spend lots of time with her grandchildren on Squirrel Island and in Naples, and gave them the lifelong gift of beach and water. Whenever and wherever her family sits by the ocean to watch the sunset, she will always be nearby. Jane is survived by her son Andrew, his wife Marice Bennett, and their daughters Anna and Grace; and her son Scott, his wife Laurie, and their sons Chris and Connor. A memorial service will be held on Squirrel Island, Maine in summer of 2024. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to the Squirrel Island Preservation Foundation c/o Nina Garrison, 3 Clacton Way, South Portland, ME 04106.
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