Eugene Ralph Burke


Eugene Ralph Burke, of the Alarka community, passed into his eternal rest on the evening of December 21, 2019—on the Winter Solstice, the year’s shortest day and longest night. Surrounded by loved ones and with the hand of his only daughter in his, Gene Burke departed this life in Hendersonville, NC at Elizabeth House and Hospice as peacefully as one can hope.

Gene Burke is survived by his wife and the love of his life, Martha Rogers Burke, whom he married in 1984; his only child and daughter, Janene Burke Cutler and husband Daniel; stepson, Derek Moore and wife Stephanie; a brother, Carl Burke; a nephew, Kenneth Burke; a niece, Laura Burke Leatherwood; and a cousin, Ralph Burke. Gene also leaves behind a legacy of five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren: Benjamin Cutler and wife Jennifer and children Dallin, Camden, Abigail, and Brooke; Adam Cutler and daughter Leanora; Brandon Cutler and wife Callie and children Emmylou, Elaina, and Elias; Susie Cutler; Sarah Cutler; Christopher Moore; and Caitlin Moore.

Son of Ralph W. Burke and Ruth Thompson Burke, Gene was born January 20, 1932 in Miami, Fl. He spent his childhood and years as a young man generally causing harmless trouble and frequenting the waters of Miami—fishing the deep sea and wide rivers (often skipping school to do so). In the later years of his young adulthood, Gene made the most of 1950’s Miami with long nights in the city and the occasional wild weekend frolicking in Havana, though the details of these weekends, as told to his grandsons, are shrouded in narratives that swing between vague secrecy and memorable hyperbole.

After over ten years in the Naval Reserve, marrying, and becoming a father, Gene felt the city had outgrown him (or that he had outgrown it), so in 1969 he headed north, moving his young family to the mountains of western North Carolina where he settled into a lifetime of entrepreneurship, fatherhood, and being a doting grandfather. Gene Burke lived a complete life—colorful, long, and full.

He loved his family, his community, his country, and his Savior Jesus Christ—and he demonstrated as much through both word and service.

Services for Gene Burke were held on December 26, 2019 at Crisp Funeral Home in Bryson City, North Carolina: visitation was at 1:00 p.m. and service was at 2:00 p.m., after which Gene was carried to his rest at Garrett-Hillcrest Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Kenneth Burke, Benjamin Cutler, Adam Cutler, Brandon Cutler, Dallin Cutler, and Charlie Saunooke.

Honorary pallbearers were Jeff Jenkins, Christopher Moore, Jerry Bowers, Keith Tipton and Bill Cunningham.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Shriners Hospital.