Greensburg man loved all things sports
If it involved sports, chances are good that Eugene Burke of Greensburg was interested.
Over the years, Burke served as an assistant athletic director at the former North Union High School, ran an undergraduate basketball tournament in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and was a PIAA referee from the late 1960s through 1983.
Eugene J. “Gene” Burke, of Greensburg, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. He was 88.
Mr. Burke was born March 23, 1931, in Lackawanna, N.Y., but shortly afterward moved to Charleroi, where he grew up.
He graduated from Charleroi High School and began a 42-year career with West Penn Power at its Mitchel Power Station in Monongahela. Mr. Burke also served at West Penn facilities in Ridgway, Springdale and Milesburg, where he met his wife of 67 years.
“We were both working in the State College area,” said Judy Burke. “I don’t remember exactly where our first date was. We probably went to the corner restaurant where everyone hung out.”
The couple was married April 21, 1952, in Winchester, Va.
During his four decades with West Penn, Mr. Burke joined the system dispatching group and worked in his hometown as well as Springdale and Connellsville. He later became a transmission and distribution supervisor in Greensburg.
But sports was Mr. Burke’s passion.
In addition to his work at North Union High School and his basketball tournament, Mr. Burke was one of the first people in the area to publish a ratings guide for WPIAL football teams. He also organized an annual basketball luncheon featuring both high-school and college coaches.
When he wasn’t refereeing a game, Mr. Burke was watching his favorite team, the Pitt Panthers. He and his son Bill regularly traveled the country to watch NCAA tournament games.
“He also enjoyed watching tennis,” Judy said. “He played as well, but he really liked to watch it. Other than that, it was going to Pitt basketball games and working outside in his flower garden.”
Judy said her husband was quick to make friends.
“He was very charismatic and a well-rounded guy,” she said. “He got along very well with people.”
Mr. Burke is survived by his wife, Judith Lee Walker Burke; six children, Carol Over (Tom “T.O.”), Cathy McDowell, and Linda Sleighter (Chris), all of Uniontown, Barbara Jefferson, of North Versailles, Bill Burke (Joelyne), of Greensburg, and Steve Burke (Allyson), of Los Gatos, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; sister, Rose Johnson (William); and brother, Bob Burke (Cindy).
Friends will be received at 10 a.m. Friday at Kepple-Graft Funeral Home, 524 N. Main St., Greensburg, where an 11 a.m. service will take place. Interment will follow at St. Clair Cemetery.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .