Hon. William Burke
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Obituary of Hon. William J. Burke

Honorable William J. Burke, 89, of Syracuse passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday December 18, 2018 with his bride of 66 years and 3 children at his side. Bill was born January 3, 1929 in Syracuse and was a lifelong resident of the city.  He was a graduate of Cathedral High School, Syracuse University and Syracuse University College of Law (1955). He was a member of the U.S. Navy and was aboard the USS Randolph during the Korean War. Bill joined the American Bar Association in 1957 and worked private practice with Byrne, Byrne & Lowery and then was an assistant corporation counsel as City Chief Trial Lawyer for City of Syracuse.  Mayor W. F. Walsh appointed Bill to the city Court Bench where he served for period of seven years. During this time in City Court, Judge Burke was the original founder and first president of the NYS City Court Judge Association.  He was appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill a vacancy in the Onondaga County Court where he served until his retirement, having successfully run for election 2 times.  During his time in County Court he had the opportunity to preside over trials in different county courts, from Long Island to Buffalo.  Judge Burke was the supervising judge of all the criminal courts in the Fifth Judicial District.  It was his responsibility to see that each criminal court in the district was adequately staffed with a judge available to preside.  He was one of three members of the Onondaga County Jury Board, which had the responsibility to see that a Commission of Jurors was appointed and that the court’s need for jurors was met each week.

Bill was a long-time member of St. Ann’s Church, Bellevue Country Club, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and Federal, State and local Bar Associations.

He is predeceased by his parents, Peter and Eleanor Burke; sister, Anne Headd; and grandson, Benjamin Bresett.  He is survived by his wife, Dorothy M. Burke; children, Patricia Anne Burke Mott, Michael Peter (Sue), and Francis Xavier Burke; 4 grandchildren, Suzanne Bresette (Todd) Monroe, Michael (Brynn) Burke, Elizabeth K. Burke, and Sarah A. Burke, one great granddaughter, Aurora Eirwyn Burke, and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10am on Saturday, December 22, 2018 at St. Ann’s Church, Onondaga Blvd.  Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, DeWitt. 

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to St. Lucy’s Food Pantry; St. Lucy’s Food Pantry and/or Brady Faith Center; 404 South Ave. Syracuse, NY 13204.