Robert Martin Burke (Bob, Grandpa, Pop-Pop), passed away unexpectedly on April 28, 2021 at his home in Green Brook, NJ. He was 89 years old. Bob was born in 1931 and raised in the neighboring town of Dunellen, the youngest son of Marilyn and Charles Burke. He attended Dunellen schools until the age of 16, when he had to drop out to help support his family after his father died, thus beginning his lifelong career in construction. During the Korean war, he served his country as an army corporal in the 28th infantry division as a radio telegraph operator. After his return, he met and married Gloria, his beloved wife of 64 years, in 1957; soon after they added Denise, Robert and Diane to their family.
Bob continued his career with Dunellen Builders and then Harlow Construction, but worked long after his official “retirement” with his brother Charlie building homes and completing thousands of other projects for his children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends and countless others up until the day he died.
Bob was never seen without a smile on his face, even when he was arguing with friends or family over the “right” way to build something, and never saw the reason for buying anything new because he knew he could fix it instead! He loved snow-skiing in the winter, and in the summer his life was all about the beach and the bay, building his own vacation house in South Mantoloking in 1967. He loved water skiing (his ski pyramids, stilt skiing and kite skiing rivaled those of Cypress Gardens’ ski teams), boating, crabbing, clamming, surf fishing and body surfing. Reading his favorite magazine Popular Mechanics sparked his greatest handmade creation – a “water helicopter” crafted out of a rowboat, with blades made of a used metal door jam and pulled behind a powerboat! He was a friend to everyone he met, immediately made them feel like family, and was always someone that others could count on to lend a hand, resolve any construction problem or build something almost faster than you could buy it.
The only time he liked to sit was on the beach, contemplating when the tides were coming and going. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.
Bob was predeceased by both of his parents and brother Charles. He is survived by his loving wife Gloria; daughter Denise Higgins (husband Tom), son Robert Burke (wife Beth), daughter Diane George (husband Mike); grandchildren Kristin Higgins Douglas (husband Jeff), Kelly Higgins Davis (husband Justin), Kyle Higgins (wife Gina), Allie and Emily Burke, Matthew, Kimberly and Richard George; and great-grandchildren Kylie, Chase, Chloe, Daniella, Charlotte, Hailey and Lexi.
Friends may visit the family on Monday, May 3 from 10:00am-12:00pm at the Sheenan Funeral Home. A funeral service will then be held at Noon followed by Military Honors. Cremation will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America at https://alzfdn.org/support-us/donate/
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