Keith & Keith Funeral Home
Jerry L. Burk died on June 17, 2019. He was 81 years old and was married to his best friend Sharon for over 50 years. Their son Gregory was his joy throughout his life, and he was so proud of the good man he became and delighted in the grandchildren, Fiona and Dublin, who he loved so very much.
He grew up in Roswell, New Mexico during WWII where he was neighbors with Col. Tibbits’ (he flew the Enola Gay) kids, who had the Walker Air Force airplane bone yard as their playground. He had great times “flying” these relics and enjoyed the life of a kid on an Army base. He joined the Navy in 1956. He was aircrew in an anti submarine squadron on several aircraft carriers traveling all over the world. During the Lebanon crisis the carrier spent time in the Mediterranean where he fell in love with Lisbon. Later in life he and Sharon spent over 245 days cruising on Holland America and docked at Lisbon twice, a port he never thought he would return to.
Following the Navy, he worked at Boeing and his electronics skills translated into quality control of the minuteman missile in Vandenburg Air force base in Ca. They were fond of calling it the inter-county ballistic missile because it took quite an effort to get it out of the county let alone the continent.
The military had set the stage for his dream job which he soon discovered was to be a cop for his career. He joined the King County Sheriff’s Reserve, and in 1963 he became a full time deputy and never looked back. He rose through the ranks by exams to Captain, then was appointed Major and Chief, a position he held until his retirement in 1988. During that time he was either responsible for or participated in the development of the 911 system, the K-9 unit, establishing command officers on weekend call, and the promotion of minorities and women in police work. He had many arguments with other command staff and the then King County council over his insistence in calling women Police Officers (not Police women) and putting them in regular uniforms instead of the skirts and purses that were being proposed. He did his best to mentor good officers and NEVER forgot his first line patrol. Often as Chief he would be out at night backing up any officer as needed as Car 2. He was often referred to as “a cop’s cop,” and was humbled by the affection shown for his involvement and leadership.
After retirement he briefly joined the upcoming Good Will Games in charge of security, while he continued his education. At that time he had the opportunity to become the 47th person in the USA to be a bone marrow donor to a non related person and had the surgery done at Fred Hutchinson. After receiving 2 BA degrees at CWU in Ellensburg he was accepted to law school at UPS/Seattle University where he graduated with honors.
In his “next life” as an attorney, he was a prosecutor in King County under Norm Maleng until Jeff Sullivan in Yakima offered him a position. He soon became the supervisor of the District Court unit. As traveling with Sharon became more important, he became a Judge Pro-Tem for Yakima County, where he could take extra time for himself.
He fell in love with cruising, often commenting that you never had chocolates on your pillow on an aircraft carrier. With a condo in Hawaii, a camper that always headed to the Southwest and the many cruises, he truly enjoyed the diversity of this world.
With his death he will now enjoy the comfort of our Lord. He was a good, kind, just man with ethics that were never compromised. He chose this poem for Sharon a few months before his death:
And if I go,
While you’re still here…
Know that I live on,
Vibrating to a different measure
-behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
So you must have faith.
I wait for the time we can soar together again,
-both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to the fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart
….I will be there.
Colleen Corah Hitchcock, 1989
He is interred at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Yakima Air Terminal/McAllister Field.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.keithandkeith.com.