BURKE, EDWARD J. of Boston. April 30, 2023
Edward James Burke of Boston’s Fenway, formerly of Mission Hill, passed away on April 30. Raised by his mother, aunts and uncles in the closeness of the Irish Catholic Mission Hill neighborhood, he attended Mission Grammar and Mission High while supporting his family with various after-school jobs, opening up all the neighborhoods of Boston to him. Following three years of the Army in Germany from age 19, he returned to Boston, helping to set up the first data processing computer system for the City. He was named Assistant Clerk of the Boston Municipal Court in 1966, later becoming a Harvard Medical School animal research technician and a Clinical Lab Technician at the Boston V.A. Medical Center. Living in the Fenway neighborhood in1985, Ed resurrected the Fenway Civic Association to help fix the safety and beauty of the Fenway’s neighborhood and especially its surrounding Back Bay Fens park that had become sorely neglected. Ed’s effectiveness and passion as a civic activist became realized when he assumed Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) leadership under newly elected Mayor Raymond Flynn, who trusted him for his love for the City and understanding of residents’ concerns, while advancing the Mayor’s progress in a growing Boston under BRA director Stephen Coyle. Ed was highly respected at City Hall and in the neighborhoods under his oversight. He loved his job, walking each morning to City Hall, working all day, and going to meetings at night with his beeper and constantly on call. “I worked really hard but didn’t mind doing it because you knew you were making a difference” he would say. He was bolstered by the entrance of Fredericka Veikley, his new love, and later wife, into his life in 1986. They easily became dedicated lifelong partners.
In 1995, newly elected Mayor Menino revamped the ONS and purged the liaisons who had gained expertise and connections that complicated the new Mayor’s idea of how to run the City. Back to the “other side”, Ed resumed his neighborhood advocacy, keeping many of his City Hall connections, and training new activists in the Fenway Civic Association. He was proud of them and their commitment of personal time, energy, and sleep for the betterment of the Fenway and the City. For those who say “you can’t fight City Hall”, Ed would say “Yes you can -- the City would fall apart without all the activists”.
Ed was 86; preceded in death by his mother Anna Mahoney and her siblings, and by his two brothers Peter and Paul Burke. He is survived by his loving wife and step daughter Amber Kasbeer, several nieces and nephews and long-time friends. Please join friends and family for a wake for Ed at Mann Rogers Funeral Home, 44 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain on Thursday May 4 from 5 – 8 PM. A funeral Mass will be held the following morning at Mission Church,1545 Tremont Street, Boston 02120 at 10:00 AM, followed by internment at Forest Hills Cemetery.
Ed brought new life to the City’s Back Bay Fens parks, and sought for decades the restoration of its Muddy River, now coming to fruition. Together he and Freddie with the City of Boston created Ramler Park in the Fenway, as a quiet place of beauty, opening in 2004 (friendsoframlerpark.org). Parks support people and people must support parks. If you wish to make a gift in Ed’s honor, consider helping sustain the park that sustains you.
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