Eugene J. "Gene" Burke, 88, of Greensburg, died Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. Born March 23, 1931, in Lackawanna, N.Y., he was the firstborn son of the late James Edmund and Pauline Solomon Burke.
He was a graduate of Charleroi High School. He began his working career of 42 years with West Penn Power at Mitchel Power Station in Monongahela and also served at Ridgway, Milesburg and Springdale. He joined the system dispatching group and served at Charleroi, Springdale and Connellsville. He later became a transmission and distribution supervisor at Greensburg, from where he retired.
Gene was active in high school sports in the area including publishing a rating of WPIAL football teams in the days before there was widespread media coverage. He assisted the athletic director at North Union High School in scheduling basketball opponents and hiring officials before the merger with South Union to form Laurel Highlands. He established and ran an undergraduate basketball tournament throughout the late 60s and early 70s. Around the same time, he created and ran a highly successful basketball luncheon featuring high school and college coaches. This luncheon was well received by both fans and the media. He became a PIAA basketball referee in the late 60s. He worked many important games until he retired from refereeing in 1983. Gene enjoyed all sports and especially enjoyed attending and watching his favorite college basketball team, the Pitt Panthers. He took many trips, with his son, Bill, to watch tournament games during March Madness.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, William Burke.
He is survived by his wife, Judith Lee Walker Burke; six children, Carol Over (Tom "T.O."), Cathy McDowell, 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 and six great-grandchildren; sister Rose Johnson (William); and brother Bob Burke (Cindy).
Family and friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, September 12, in KEPPLE-GRAFT FUNERAL HOME, 524 North Main Street, Greensburg. Additional visitation will be held in the funeral home from 10 until the 11 a.m. hour of service Friday, August 13. Interment will follow in St. Clair Cemetery. For condolences, please visit http://www.kepplegraft.com.