Later today, I will lead the celebration of life/memorial service for one of the all time great Great Race volunteers… Garry Burke. From 1999 until 2007, Garry and Ruth were key staff, responsible for the headquarters trailer, setting up and taking down the night stop at every city. During Tom’s years, they became trusted friends, travelling each year from Ottawa to Granbury, to repair, load and generally get things done prior to hauling that trailer to the start city. Ruth was my right hand at every evening event, making sure that through Garry’s spotting that I knew every team as it approached the evening finish line.
Both had faced incredible health challenges over the past several months, Ruth with an increasingly stubborn vascular dementia, Garry with cancer. Garry lost his fight last Wednesday. He would so have loved to be at the Ottawa overnight in 2012.
Garry was a true volunteer hero in our community. While not a part of the rebirth of Great Race, many of our Great Race family members will reflect and remember what key members of the Great Race team the Burkes were.
“Through the Great Race, provisioner of most of Garry’s wardrobe over the past several years, I travelled extensively with Garry and Ruth. He was the true vagabond, someone who, like me loved the ‘circus’ life; and while others will speak of their sports and community and RV life experiences with Garry, I can tell you about travelling together ( 1999-2007), years when first Garry and then with Garry & Ruth. they were inseparable, travelled extensively with “MotorMouth” ; there was never a dull moment. From start to finish, be it Boston, MA to Sacramento, CA, Livonia, MI to Daytona, Florida, Washington, DC to Tacoma, WA, they were all truly amazing events! My personal favourite. 2006, from Philadelphia, PA to San Rafael, CA. that was the year that dear friends Mike & Nancy Ward and my wife Marion, travelling in their new motor home, came to see the start of that year’s event. understanding perhaps for the first time the love and commitment that Garry, Ruth and I shared with our Great Race family. Taking four or five weeks annually, start to finish, Garry and Ruth would travel from Kanata to Granbury, TX, home of the Great Race; they’d load trailers, clean and repair equipment from the previous year, then haul truck and trailer to the start city. often from Texas to the east coast of the USA, drive the entire rally route, setting up the headquarters trailer for our “night” show each evening along the way, then haul everything from the finish city back to Granbury, TX before returning to Kanata! They were troupers! Garry loved being on the road! I seldom got to see them setting up or taking down. they were always at the next city, ready for the show to go on when I got there. Garry loved being in the background. making things happen!”
Peacefully, Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Garry Burke, age 67, beloved husband of Ruth (nee Angus). Loving father of Brad (Marcie), Darcy (Elizabeth), and Dana (Kenny). Cherished grandfather of Cobe, Kayla and Bailey. Dear brother of Don (Judy) and Doreen (Bob Bell). As a great leader and volunteer in the community he will be truly missed by his many friends.
Family and Friends may pay respects at the Kelly Funeral Home, 580 Eagleson Road, Kanata, Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 2 p.m. to 9 p. m. A Celebration of Life will take place at 5 p.m. In memoriam donations to the Alzheimer Society appreciated.