Charles “Chuck” Burke celebrated his 100th birthday with family Sept. 26.
Burke is a 4-year resident of The Dalles, and currently resides at The Springs at Mill Creek.
Burke was born in Cloverdale, just south of Tillamook on the Oregon Coast, on a family-owned dairy farm. His great-grandfather was one of the founders of Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook.
He remembers working very hard, hiring out to area farmers from the age of 10. “He said he got stepped on by a lot of horses,” his daughter Judy Burke said.
Chuck Burke left school and joined the U.S. Navy in 1944, and was stationed in Honalulu, Hawaii, where he served as a carpenter and lifeguard.
Following his service he moved to Bend, where he finished his last two years of high school at Bend High School. He worked as an assistant teacher during his studies. It was there he met his future wife, Roberta “Bobby” Posuar. They were married Oct. 11, 1946.
According to his daughter Judy Burke, who lives in The Dalles’ family home on West 10th St., Charles was well known in west The Dalles, where he and his wife were seen daily walking along 10th Street prior to her death in 2008.
He was also well known for his garden, Judy Burke said. “He always had a home garden, once he got to The Dalles. He shared what he grew with the neighbors.” She said many local gardeners kept an eye on what he was doing. “People would drive by in the spring, they would see him in the garden and know it was time to get started on their own gardens,” she said.
Following his high school graduation, Chuck Burke put his carpentry skills, learned in the Navy, to work for the state Oregon. He worked on many projects, including Columbia River Dams. “He’s an extremely hard worker, that’s what got him to 100 years old,” said Judy. “He was unafraid of heights, so he was always the one going over the side and working on ropes,” said Judy.
He traveled a great deal, working at construction sites throughout the state and coming home for the weekends, Judy Burke remembers. While working on a project east of The Dalles, Chuck Burke was carrying a piece of sheet metal on a roof when the wind blew him off the roof, landing him on his back. “He survived that, and numerous heart attacks, and cancer as well,” She said.
At the age of 80, Chuck Burke joined local athletic club and started playing tennis.
Chuck Burke celebrated his birthday with a private party — and a large stack of cards. “We are hoping to get 100,” she said the week prior. “We’re getting pretty close, too.”