Obituary: Dean Burke

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April 18, 1928 ~ April 3, 2021

Dean Burke

Lifelong Piceance Creek resident Dean Burke passed away on Saturday, April 3, 2021, at the Walbridge Wing in Meeker, Colorado, at the age of 92.

Dean was born on April 18, 1928, in Meeker, Colorado, the 12th of 15 children born to Fred and Annie (Jones) Burke, right before his twin brother, Dale.

At a young age, he recognized the importance of hard work and loved ones. All the children were expected to help with the chores; it was a very tight-knit family.

Dean attended the Burke rural schoolhouse located one mile from the ranch where he continued school through the eighth grade. The only time he was away from his twin brother, Dale, was when Dean spent a summer guiding at Mesa Lake and then worked during the winter crushing gravel at a gravel pit near Grand Junction. Upon returning to Piceance Creek, he worked as a cowboy for the Oldland Brothers Ranch. Later, he found employment with the Square S Ranch with his brothers, Dale and Lex, until being drafted into the U.S. Army in June of 1954. He spent two years (or as he would say, “One year, 11 months, and 14 days”)in the military serving primarily in France alongside his brother Dale, as a 42nd Field Hospital cook. After an honorable discharge in 1956, he returned home to Piceance Creek to work with his brothers on the family ranch where he remained for the rest of his life.

On Sept. 23, 1966, Dean joined hand in marriage to Elvina Fern Proctor who had two children, Tracy Lynn and Clinton Edward, whom Dean adopted and raised as his own. From this union, he had two sons, K.C. Richard and James(Jim) Dale and one daughter, Carol Luann.

A particular interest of Dean’s was his love of creating works of art with leather. He made items including belts, chaps, billfolds, checkbook covers, and was specifically proud of building a few saddles.

Throughout his lifetime, Dean enjoyed the companionship of several dogs, but there was one that was most memorable to him, Curly. He loved the company of an enjoyable cowhorse and a good dog. He was acknowledged as a great hand and an excellent horseman.

Dean was known for his generosity and giving spirit. He grew up with little monetary means, but never talked about feeling like he missed out on anything. During his youth, he could never remember going to bed hungry. He was very proud that his mother was able to make ends meet for all the kids. He said he felt cared for and enjoyed spending life growing up with his siblings. Dean always found a way to share what he had with others. He will be remembered for having one of the biggest and kindest hearts known to all of his family and friends.

Dean was preceded in death by: his wife Elvina Fern, and daughter Tracy Lynn; his father Fred and mother Annie; seven brothers: Jim, Dick, Tom, Casey, Freddie, Dale and Lex; and six sisters: Mary, Anna, Winnie, Claire, Nancy and Nettie.

He is survived by: his brother Pat; his sons Clinton, K.C. (Heather) and James (Stacey) Burke, and daughter Carol (Mike) Grinstead; grandkids Shelby, Peyton, Kinzy, Kale, Pake, and Makenna in addition to numerous nieces and nephews.

Dean’s family would like to extend their gratitude to the staff at Pioneers Medical Center and the Walbridge Wing for their love and compassion with Dean’s care throughout the years. A memory of life service will be held on Saturday, May 29 at 10 a.m. at the Extension Service Building at the county fairgrounds in Meeker, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Walbridge Wing.

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