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Jan. 21, 1946 — April 4, 2020
Coach Robert “Bob” Joseph Burke died April 4, 2020, at home surrounded by his loving family in Wilson, North Carolina. Bob was born Jan. 21, 1946, in the Bronx, New York.
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Jane Britt Burke, of Wilson; his son, Robert “Rob” Joseph Burke Jr. (Neily); daughter, Ashlyn Burke-Metheny (Andrew). He is also survived by his granddaughters, Mina and Marissa Burke; and his sister, Geraldine Iacovo. Bob is also survived by his sisters and brothers by marriage, Donna Carr (Mac), Connie Moseley, Samuel Britt (Merle) and Howard Britt (Bill). Bob is also survived by many nieces and nephews. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Gerald and Josephine Burke; his sisters, Marion Shea, Margaret Allan, Anne Jankunis; and brothers, Edward Brochart and Stephen Burke. Bob was also predeceased by a special niece and nephew, Susan Rindos and Thomas Carr. Bob graduated from New Dorp High School in Staten Island, New York. Bob then attended and played collegiate basketball at South Texas Junior College and Campbell University under North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer Fred McCall, where he also met and married his Campbell sweetheart, Jane Britt.
Upon graduation from Campbell he began his coaching career at Wallace Rose Hill High School. The New York native continued to patrol the sidelines of North Carolina eventually coaching at every level of the game of basketball. But his most memorable years were spent at then Chowan College where he compiled a 419-217 coaching record and led the then Braves to three NJCAA tournaments, two sweet sixteen appearances and a Final Four appearance along with 12 consecutive 20-plus win seasons and nine coach of the year awards.
After enjoying 22 years of great success at then Chowan College he went onto serve as an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii and with the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers. Upon his retirement he continued to assist many coaches and players including his daughter, Ashlyn who coached at the junior college level. Until his final days, Bob served as mentor and confidant to his son, Rob who also followed in his father’s footsteps as a college basketball coach.
In recognition of his service and stewardship, Bob was inducted into Chowan College’s Hall of Fame in 2000 as the third winningest active coach in North Carolina history behind Mike Kryzewski (Duke) and Jerry Steele (High Point), Campbell University Athletic Hall of Fame, George Whitfield Baseball Hall of Fame, 2008 Palm Springs Distinguished Speaker Award. Among many of his achievements one of his proudest is the naming of the “Bob Burke Court” at Chowan University.
In Lieu of flowers and to honor his commitment to education of student-athletes, contributions may be made to Robert J. “Bob” Burke Men’s Basketball Scholarship Endowment Fund, Chowan University, Office of Development One University Place, Murfreesboro, NC 27855 or Mulligan Fore Kids, PO Box 3413, Wilson, NC 27895. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a private graveside service will be held for the family and a public memorial service celebrating Coach Burke’s life will be held at a later date.
Condolences directed to Joyner’s Funeral Home and Crematory at www.joyners.net.