Fred Burke Sr. is pictured here in the center with his son Fred Burke Jr. (left) and grandson Justin.
Kilmarnock, Va.--Fred Erwin Burke Sr., who co-founded Burkes Fine Jewelers with his wife nearly 50 years ago, died Oct. 29. He was 88 years old. 

After serving in World War II, Burke attended school in Washington, D.C. and then was hired by Safeway Stores, where he was employed for 25 years and rose through the system to the position of meat department manager.

It was then that he felt it was time for a career change, so he and his wife Dorothy purchased a local jewelry store in 1969 when its owners retired. Both of them went to school and took long-distance courses to learn about the industry and spent the next 30 years building Burkes Fine Jewelers.

Their son, Fred Jr., worked with them in the business as well and, after marrying, Fred Jr. took over management of Burkes with his wife Karen while his parents retired. The third generation--Burke Sr.’s grandson Justin and his wife Melissa--joined the business in 2013.

Fred Burke Sr. was a 25-year member and president of the Lancaster County Lions Club as well as a member of the Irvington Council. He also was an active member of Irvington Baptist Church, serving as a deacon there for many years and holding other roles such as Sunday school superintendent, Sunday school teacher, church treasurer, and buildings and grounds committee chairman. 

Burke was preceded in death by his wife. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law; granddaughter, Courtney; grandson, Justin and his wife, Melissa; great-grandson, Finley Rhodes; and several nieces and nephews.

Services were held on Nov. 1 for Burke. Donations can be made in his memory to the Irvington Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 417, Irvington, VA 22480.


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