Chicago, to his managerial leadership at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, to his subsequent reputation at the General Electric Research Laboratory as a key innovator in the “science of ceramic materials” that led to one of the most important revolutions in electric lighting since Thomas Edison’s original invention—surely his friends would have been quick and proud to agree about Joe Burke’s greatness.
Was he truly part of the greatest generation? Joe could have reluctantly admitted that “perhaps we might have been.” But his friends and associates would have insisted that theirs indeed was the greatest generation, while emphasizing the significant contributions of both Joe and Mary Burke.
Joe’s survivors include his second wife, Marjorie Ridgway Burke, of Eskaton Village in Carmichael, California; his son Charles Robert Burke of Concord, Massachusetts; his daughter Margaret (“Molly”) Burke VanDecar of Guilderland, New York; and four grandchildren. Kathleen Mary Wilson, his first wife, died in 1996.