Last weekend we celebrated a family reunion with my father’s side, The Burke Family. This is the first reunion we have had in over 13 years. We shared a couple days of fun, games, music and amazing stories with each other in beautiful Boerne, Texas.
Big Family. Humble Beginnings.
My father had eight brothers and sisters and I have adored them as aunts and uncles throughout my life. In a family with nine children, money was scarce and none of them could afford going to college. However, in spite of humble beginnings, they each worked hard and became extremely successful. Most of them held leadership roles in various fields.They are a shining example of how no matter where you start in life; there is no limit to what you can achieve if you have tenacity and determination to succeed.
My father’s family moved to Texas when my dad was a young boy and lived on Lake Travis. The lake area was very rural back then and he and his siblings attended the Dripping Springs School district. The Burke kids enjoyed exploring the lake and becoming amazing water skiers in the process. It’s hard to believe that a family with little means and nine children could afford to live on Lake Travis waterfront property. Boy… how things have changed.
A Family Trade:
My grandfather worked in the elevator business and several of his sons followed in his footsteps. My Uncle Jerry is the oldest in the bunch and was branch manager for the San Antonio office of Dover Elevator Company, now ThyssenKrupp. My dad, the youngest son, worked with my Uncle Jerry and was in charge of the service department. My Uncle Tom managed the El Paso office and my Uncle Rolly still manages the Austin office to this day. He is 80 years old, but says he doesn’t plan on retiring. My uncle Jim was a Decoder in the Navy. My Uncle Pat started out as a fighter pilot in the Navy and went on to fly for Delta Airlines. He is the biggest story teller out of the bunch and I could sit and listen to him for hours. They are all extremely intelligent and honorable men.
My Aunt Joanie lived in South Padre, so I did not get to see her as often growing up. I have always been close to my Aunt Katy who lives in Austin. She and my Uncle Lucky were original Austin hippies and were really into healthy and organic food long before Whole Foods came about. Together, they still run a widely respected antique and estate appraisal business. My Aunt Rosie encouraged me to start singing at five years old. We often sang together at family functions and professionally for a short while. My Aunt Rosie is a yodeler and she even won a state competition years ago. At this reunion she and my uncle Rolly proved they “still have it.”
A Veteran Family:
As we approach Memorial Day weekend, I am thankful for my Uncle Tom who served in the Army; Uncle Rolly the Marine and Uncles Jim and Pat who served in the Navy. My Uncle Pat flew 108 missions in the Vietnam War and tells a heroic story of being struck by enemy fire and managing to land safely on an aircraft carrier. My father enlisted in the military, but my grandfather withdrew him the next day, letting them know
they already had four of his boys and that they were not going to get another one.
They honored my grandfather’s wishes and for that, I am also thankful. Who knows what would’ve happened to my father or if he would have ever started dating my mother if he had joined the military. They have been married for almost 55 years now, and I can’t imagine either of their lives without the other.
I am fortunate that none of my uncles died in combat and therefore I can just remember and be thankful for their service on Memorial Day. I know others are less fortunate and have lost loved ones fighting and defending our freedom. The freedom that allows me as a woman to run a design company and work with other women who are able to share their talents, free speech and strengths with others on a daily basis. For this I am eternally grateful.
This Memorial Day my sincere thanks goes out to those who have served or lost their life in battle. Also to the families who provide constant support to our troops and at times go through life without them around. I also thank this talented and loving Burke Family for being an example of how to live a good and honorable life.
God bless the American Family and God bless America.