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Mrs. Shirley L. Burke

Mrs. Shirley L. Burke
  • August 7, 1923 - January 1, 2016
  • Indianapolis, Indiana

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Shirley L. Freeman Burke was born on August 7, 1923, in Indianapolis, IN to her parents, Edgar James and Lucinda Lester Freeman. She was their sixth child and they and her siblings, Lillian, Edgar Allen, Sarah, Samella, and Marion all preceded her in death. She attended Indianapolis Public Schools and graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in January 1941. While there she excelled academically and especially enjoyed her classes in literature, Spanish, and Art. She was proud to have attended Crispus Attucks and appreciated the expertise and commitment of her teachers. She was active in the Alumni Association for many years and attended several class reunions.


She met her future husband, Allen Burke, in 1940 when he arrived in Indianapolis from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They married on March 15, 1941 and had two children, Kaaren Ophelia and Allen Burke, Jr. She was devoted to her family and always encouraged her children to pursue their dreams. Their accomplishments gave her great joy. Her devotion to family extended not only to her siblings and their children, but also to her aunts, uncles, cousins and their children as well. She knew and reached out to everyone in her large extended family and along with others in her generation helped to organize the first family gatherings that grew to become the Lester, Hayes, Freeman, Woods family Reunions.


Shirley was raised in the Baptist church but joined the Methodist church upon her marriage to Allen. Thoughout their life together they have been members of University United Methodist Church and the churches that preceded it. Shirley was active in many guilds and support groups at University and taught Sunday School and sponsored the Methodist youth groups to which her children belonged.


In the early years Shirley worked as and elevator operator and in the coat checkroom of the Columbia Club. Afterwards, she was a stay-at-home mom until Kaaren wnt off to college. At that point she began working at what was then known as The State Office Building. From there she went to the City-County Building as a clerk in Voters Registration and later became a bailiff for Judge Taylor Baker in his Marion County Minicipal Courtroom. She retired from this position in 1990.


Shirley had a keen interest in politics. Beginning in the early 60's she became active in the Marion County Democratic Party, registering voters, working on campaigns and attending events. She became a precinct committeeman in the 20th Ward (Butler Tarkington) and worked tirelessly to get her voters interested in the issues and out to the polls on Election Day. She knew all the candidates, and they all wanted to campaign with her in her precinct. She put Kaaren, Allen Jr. and later Kaaren's husband Mike to work there as well. Over the years she was able to meet many Democratic Party candidates for president and other national offices. She enjoyed this work very much.


In addition to politics, Shirley loved art, music, and travel. Drawing was a favorite pastime and nothing gave her more pleasure than to listen to Allen Jr. and his daughters, Niki and Lydia sing. She took several trips that were special to her, cruises with family members, a trip to France with Kaaren and best of all, the fiftieth anniversary trip that she and Allen took to Alaska in 1991.


Shirley Freeman Burke passed from this life on January 1,2016. She leaves to cherish her memory her husband of 74 years, Allen Burke, her daughter, Kaaren Rodman (Michael), her son, Allen Burke, Jr.l (Melanie) and her step-son, Jack Burke (Sandra); five grandchildren, Christopher A. Burke (Stacy), Michael H. Rodman, Heather R. Karazim (Andrew), Nicole A. Burke and Lydia L. Burke; six great-grandchildren, Kaaren Elizabeth Burke, Christopher A. Burke II, Benjamin Burke Karazim, Lucinda Best Karazim, Benjamin Caleb Burke and Gabriel Shalom Burke.



Funeral Information


A celebration of life service will be held on Wednesday January 6, 2016 12PM at University United Methodist Church 5959 Grandview Drive Indianapolis, IN 46228 with calling two hours prior to service. Interment will be in Crown Hill Cemetery.