WHITE STONE—Bertha “Bert” Adele Burke, 91, passed away on Thursday evening, March 2, 2017.
She was born and raised in Richmond and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. Bert married John J. Burke in 1944 and together, through his position with the U.S. Army, traveled to Germany and Japan in the 1950s, then lived in Kentucky, New Jersey and Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 1962, Bert moved the family to Richmond. With support from John and her work as a bookkeeper for Richfood, along with a night job at the Holiday Inn, she managed to raise seven children.
In 1966, Bert began looking for a way to move out of the city and as her parents resided in Coles Point, she frequented the Northern Neck on visits. On one of those trips, she toured a property owned by Captain Lawson, at Windmill Point, in Lancaster County. She fell in love with his cottage, outbuildings and perhaps, more importantly the 38 acres of land and beach that became her home in 1967.
Bert started her new adventure opening a campground and getting involved in local real estate. Though the campground activity was short-lived, she continued with real estate, ultimately becoming a broker and eventually opening her own business, Bert Adel Realty. She worked with many of the local realtors and later moved back to Richmond to take a job with the Virginia Association of Realtors.
In the early 1980s, she returned to her beloved Chesapeake Bay property and she and her son, Marty, operated Burke’s White Stone Inn, what the locals formerly knew as “Barry Oliver’s.” She loved being with customers and when time allowed, enjoyed beating them in an occasional game of pool. Bert handled the lunch crowd and often stayed to assist Marty with the evening crowd, including some wonderful New Year’s Eve parties.
She was predeceased by her parents, Willy and Irene Towsey; her sister, Dorothy; her brothers, Taylor, Will and Carl; twin siblings, Willie and Orene, who died at a young age; and her son, John J. Burke Jr., who passed away just last year.
She is survived by her children and their respective spouses and partners, John J. Burke Jr’s wife, Ann, Peter G. Burke (Nancy), William J. Burke (Kim Lux), Francis A. Burke (Carol), Catherine Burke Withers, Dorothy Burke Clark (Ernie) and Martin T. Burke (Towsey Yount), her brother Ray W. Towsey, 11 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and two on the way. Bert’s life was about family.
She loved her children and encouraged them with words and actions, advising that without effort and the willingness to try, you would never know how far you might go. She excelled at taking little failures and turning them into opportunities. She was always glad to see you, always ready to walk her beach and always sad to see you go.
A celebration of her life will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, at Grace Episcopal Church, 303 South Main Street, Kilmarnock, VA 22482.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bay Center for Spiritual Development, www.baycenterva.com, P. O. Box 938, Kilmarnock, VA 22482; or to a charity of your choice. Bertha loved her community and would welcome support for the local firefighters, veterans, or any conservation effort.
Currie Funeral Home, LLC, of Kilmarnock handled the arrangements.