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William Merritt Burke, Jr., 93 of Camden, DE peacefully passed away on October 26, 2023.
Merritt was born June 10, 1930, in Dover, Delaware, to the late William Merritt Sr. and Carolyn Emily (McKee) Burke. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister Nancy Lou Webb (Lawrence).
“First impressions of quietness soon shatters… Immaculate in dress… Sincere in his efforts… Is an admirer of ‘Hudsons’ and, of course, Ann.”
Raised in Camden, Merritt graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in 1948. Merritt met Ann Cameron while both were still in school, just 16 and 15 years old respectively. Merritt took his father’s earnest words of, “Don’t let that one go,” to heart. On November 25, 1950, Merritt and Ann married, taking vows that would mark the official beginning of a great love story.
Merritt and Ann started out in a house in town on Willow Avenue. Soon, their family began to grow, and the couple decided to purchase a larger home. Merritt purchased a large property in Woodside. The couple raised their five children here, along with no lack of animal friendships including horses, cats, dogs, cows, rabbits, and chickens.
Merritt’s keen ability to share advice and knowledge, so very much like his father before him, led to his children’s successes in their young lives and in their adult endeavors. Moreover, Merritt frequently mentored and taught young men in the area, giving them various mechanical and equipment jobs around the farmette.
All the while, Merritt was running Burke Equipment Company. Merritt’s father, William Merritt Sr., started the Company in 1911. At its beginning, the Company was in the automobile business, selling Hudsons. Later, Burke Equipment transitioned into landscaping and construction machinery. His business success allowed for himself and Ann to make numerous trips abroad, from Italy to Switzerland, to Morocco and Japan. Merritt oversaw the growth and development of Burke Equipment until his decision to sell in 1999.
In 1992, Merritt and Ann took on another great adventure: the purchase and restoration of 22 S. Main St. Built in 1820, the home was purchased in 1947 by Ann’s late parents, Dr. Edwin and Molly Cameron. Molly lived in the home until her passing in 1988. Now fondly referred to as The Cameron House, Merritt and Ann transformed the home into a spectacularly welcoming, comfortable, and beautiful place. They moved into the house in 2000. Since then, it has become the epicenter of family gatherings, and its walls have witnessed countless instances of laughter, celebrations, and reminiscences.
Merritt will be remembered for his undying love for Ann. In the recent months and weeks, he frequently called her to his side to express his love for her. No matter the day, and no matter the situation, Merritt was never angry or bitter, but, rather, always had a pleasant greeting for those who visited or cared for him. The family wishes to extend their sincerest thanks to the Christiana Care VNA as well as Accent Hospice.
Merritt’s smile and laughter always lit his eyes – which were also frequently filled with unending pride for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Merritt is survived by his wife of 73 years, Ann Burke; his five children; Richard Glen Burke (Janet) of Camden, William Merritt Burke III (Dona) of Camden, Patricia Ann Western (Michael) of New Castle, Walter Cameron Burke (Donna) of Lincoln University, PA, and Carol Lee Bridges (Stephen) of Newark; five grandchildren; Kelly Ann Henderson (Tyler) of Savannah, GA, Cameron William Burke (Madeline) of Atlanta, GA, Kathryn Marie Wesner (Paul), of Pennsburg, PA, Melanie Ann Burke of New Castle, and Caroline Elizabeth Ann Western-Osienski (Adam) of Wilmington; and ten great-grandchildren.
Memorial Service will be 1:00 pm Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Pippin Funeral Home, 119 W. Camden-Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, DE, where friends may gather beginning at 11:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Camden-Wyoming Fire Co., 200 E. Camden-Wyoming Ave., Camden, DE 19934 or Accent Care Hospice, 220 Continental Drive, Suite 407, Newark, DE 19713.
Letters of condolence may be sent via www.pippinfuneralhome.com