Paul Thomas Burke
April 21, 1946 – October 28, 2019
Paul Thomas Burke, age 73, passed away on October 28, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.
Paul was born and raised in Floral Park, New York, moving to the Washington area as a teenager. He graduated from Bishop O’Connell High School, attended the University of South Carolina on a basketball scholarship, and then transferred to George Mason University, where he earned his undergraduate degree.
In 1969, he married the love of his life, Peggy, after approaching her at a pool and asking her to rub suntan lotion on his back, a ploy which continues to astound and amuse his children.
After graduating from college, Paul was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, serving in Vietnam as a combat signal officer where he was twice awarded the Bronze Star.
Upon returning from the war, Paul and Peggy made their home in Arlington, where they raised their children, Sarah, Matthew, and John. Paul dedicated himself to his family, coaching all three of his children in basketball, lacrosse, or both at St. Ann Elementary School and Bishop O’Connell High School. For years he and his family put on haunted houses out of their garage at Halloween, and hosted a nearly famous tree-trimming party at their home every Christmas from 1979 to the present. Each summer, the family vacationed in Bethany Beach, DE, where Paul and Peggy built a second home. Paul also served as a lector at St. Ann Catholic Church.
Paul received a Master’s Degree in government from George Washington University, and his public service included a staff position at the White House Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, and a Senior Executive Service position as Assistant Administrator for Petroleum Operations in the Department of Energy. In this role Paul also served as the United States National Security Officer to the International Energy Agency in Paris. After leaving government service, Paul served as the Director of Texaco’s legislative affairs and corporate initiatives in alternate energy, and as the Chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association.
From 1984 through 2017, Paul helped lead different non-profit organizations, including the White House Young Astronauts International, the Special Olympics, United Cerebral Palsy, the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. After his retirement in 2017, he continued to serve on multiple charitable boards, including on the Executive Board of Give an Hour. Paul also found time to teach as an adjunct professor at GMU.
Paul was honored in 2003 by Irish America Magazine for his work in raising funds and awareness to battle childhood cancer, and in 2018 by GMU as one of 50 “exemplars” who exemplified the University on its 50th anniversary.
Paul is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Peggy, his sister, Pamela, his children, Sarah, Matthew, and John, their spouses, Bryan, Alice, and Elizabeth, and his grandchildren, Katharine, Madeline, Conor, Clara, and Max. A viewing will be held on Fri., Nov. 15th from 4 to 8 pm at Murphy Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA. A funeral mass will be held on Sat., Nov. 16th at 11 am at St. Ann Catholic Church, 5312 10th St. N., Arlington, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Give an Hour at giveanhour.org.
- Visitation Friday, November 15, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, November 16, 2019
- Graveside Service Saturday, November 16, 2019
Paul Thomas Burke
November 15, 2019
I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Paul when I joined the APA and worked alongside him until his retirement
A colleague, a friend... and a gentleman.
To Peggy and his family, my thoughts and prayers are with you in these difficult times.
November 5, 2019
It has been my greatest pleasure knowing Paul and Peggy Burke. I got to know them both thru a relationship with Paul's parents, almost 25 years ago. I live near Augusta, GA and Paul loved to tell stories of his time posted at Fort Gordon. He had to admit the area had definitely changed from when he was here. Paul was a good friend and I will miss him.
November 1, 2019
I have so many joyful memories to share about the great pleasure of working with Paul when he was the ED at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. I met him when he first landed there and he went on
to make his mark bringing great programs and initiatives to life. I remember being on a PBS program with him - both of us in TV makeup- being interviewed about the program we ran together for teen mental health. We laughed long and hard about him looking so much better than me on TV (and in makeup)! He had such a wonderful combination of gravitas and keen wit. I feel so blessed to have known him. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. RIP dear Paul. Colleen