Edmund F. Burke of Orchard Park, one of the area's leading builders and real estate developers, died unexpectedly Friday in Our Lady of Victory Hospital, Lackawanna. He was 71.
Founder and president of E/F Burke Realty, for more than 40 years he built, developed and owned numerous apartment complexes, subdivisions, offices and commercial properties in the Southtowns, primarily in Hamburg and Orchard Park.
His best-known project was the acquisition of the former Bethlehem Management Club in Hamburg, now Brierwood Country Club, and the development of a 400-acre community of homes, townhouses and apartments around it.
He also was a partner in Cole's Restaurant in Buffalo and Shenanigan's Restaurant in Orchard Park.
Born in Lackawanna, the son of a vocational arts instructor, he was a graduate of Our Lady of Victory High School and served in the Army from 1955 to 1957. Returning from service, he turned a talent for woodworking into a business where he built front stairways and porches, then homes and commercial properties.
"He was always a planner," his son Brian said. "He always had a napkin out in front of him, planning his next project."
A member of the Niagara Frontier Builders Association, he received the group's lifetime achievement award. He also received many civic awards, including the Burt P. Flickinger Jr. Tribute Award in 2003 for his behind-the-scenes support of fundraising efforts for Women and Children's Hospital.
He supported many charities, including the March of Dimes, Hopevale and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Surviving are his wife of 51 years, the former Sharon Meegan; five sons, Patrick, David, Kevin, Brian and Matthew; a brother, Joseph; and two sisters, Margaret Sebastian and Carol Ann Brockman.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, South Buffalo Street and Thorn Avenue, Orchard Park.