Joseph K. Burke

April 16, 1940 ~ July 9, 2020 (age 80)


Joseph Kevin Burke, of Denver, passed away on July 9, 2020, after suffering a heart attack. He was born in on April 16, 1940, in Gallup, New Mexico, to Frank J. Burke and Mary Noonen Burke. Joe graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Albuquerque in 1957. He then earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics and business administration from Regis College in Denver in 1962. That same year he joined the United States Air Force and married Mary Ellen Foster. They moved to Everett, Washington, and soon thereafter Joe was stationed in Greenland.

After four years in the USAF, he and Mary Ellen returned to Denver, and Joe joined A.C. Nielsen Company. This job led to a position in Limerick, Ireland, where the family, which included their three children, relocated for two years and traveled around Europe. During their time in Ireland, they made lifelong friends. These connections led to many trips to Ireland over the years to maintain these friendships as well as to investigate family ties. After returning to the U.S., the family moved to Broomfield, CO. In 1974, Joe and two friends founded the Broomfield Junior Soccer League (one of the oldest soccer clubs in Colorado and now called the Broomfield Soccer Club).In addition to coaching soccer, he coached youth basketball, volunteered for several community groups, participated in Nativity of Our Lord parish activities, and enthusiastically supported and attended his kids’ many activities. As empty-nesters, he and Mary Ellen moved to Westminster where they hosted family gatherings that included much time spent in the pool and on the tennis courts. After Mary Ellen passed away in 2012, Joe returned to Denver where he enjoyed OLLI courses at DU, traveled to Mexico with tennis friends, hosted book discussions, and attended a march or two. He was a business owner for thirty-seven years including his time as CEO and founder of ImageBASE LLC before retiring in 2017. 

Joe enjoyed travel and athletics in equal measure. As a young person he excelled at football and basketball, and later he became an avid tennis player. He enjoyed playing tennis over the years with his friends at the Broomfield Swim and Tennis Club, The Ranch, The Apex Center, The Denver Tennis Club, and Gates Tennis Center. He was particularly proud of the medals he earned competing in the Colorado Senior Olympics. He also loved playing tennis with his children and grandchildren and never turned down a chance to shoot a basketball, play ping pong or throw a football with them.

A life-long learner and advocate for education, Joe embodied the Jesuit imperative to be a person for others. For him, this meant sharing gifts, pursuing justice, and demonstrating concern for the poor and marginalized. In the words of his sister Kathleen Burke Anthony, “He was a good man."

Survivors include daughter, Bridget (Patrick Whitten) Burke of Peoria, IL; sons, Brian (Rosalia) Burke of Willis, TX, and Sean (Theresa) Burke of Denver; grandchildren, Riley Whitten, John Whitten, Charles Whitten, Bronson Burke, Ronin Burke, Donovan Burke, Broderick Burke, MaryKate Burke, and Brian Burke.

He is also survived by sister Kathleen Burke Anthony of Albuquerque, NM and stepbrother James P. Burke (Veronica Gay) of Tucson, AZ; brother-in-law Paul Foster (Marilyn) of Centennial, CO; sister-in-law Jini Burke of Tucson, AZ; dear cousins Tim Noonen of Los Lunas, NM, Joyce Noonen Simmons of Albuquerque, NM, John Noonen of Gallup, NM, Joe Noonen of Albuquerque, NM, and Theo Judith Noonen Sanchez of Albuquerque, NM, special niece Heather Wood of Santa Monica, CA, and many other nieces and nephews. 

Joe was preceded in death by his parents Frank J. Burke and Mary Noonen Burke, stepmother Edith Burke; wife of over 50 years Mary Ellen (Foster) Burke; brother Michael F. Burke, sister Dorothy Burke Fitz-Gerald, brother-in-law Gerald Fitz-Gerald, brother John P. Burke, sister-in-law Pattie Cotter Slattery Burke, brother-in-law Bob Foster, sister-in-law Marti Foster, and beloved aunt and uncle Theo and Tom Noonen. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, services will be held at a later date when we can safely gather. Cremation rites have been accorded.

Memorial contributions may be made to Arrupe Jesuit High School, 4343 Utica Street, Denver, CO, 80212, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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