2006-12-20 / Obituaries

Sarah Cooke Burke

Sarah Cooke Burke, wife of Gilman Burke, mother of Molly, Dana, and Nathaniel, grandmother of Rosa and Bruno Valan, James, Marina, and Raymond Burke, and stepgrandmother of Cameron Saloka, died peacefully at New York Presbyterian Hospital in the early evening of December 9, 2006.

Her education led from Friends Seminary in New York City to the Oakdene School, England; to the Kent Place School in Summit New Jersey. She graduated from Smith College in 1958, after a senior year at Wellesley. Returning to New York City with her lawyer husband, Sarah was one of the founders, and became admissions director of the West Side Montessori School, a teacher at Manhattan Country School, and then admissions director, teacher of English literature, and assistant to the head of the Town School.

Sarah then turned her attention to the social services, earning a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter Collegein 1984 and becoming director of the Runaway and Homeless Project for Youth_. It was, however, her tireless work for Sanctuary for Families (a nonprofit dedicated to helping the victims

of domestic violence and their children) that marked the last 24 year’s of her life. Sarah was one of Sanctuary’s early board chairs and a long-time board member. Her devotion to Sanctuary and its clients goes back too the earliest days of the agency when she and Gil took a battered woman and her children into their own home. She was instrumental in creating Sanctuary’s large transitional shelter in the Bronx - now named Sarah Burke House in her honor.

A lover of the theater, music and literature, Sarah was Passionate about her life and convictions. She was a founder of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company and a board member of the Desmond Fish-Library, both in Garrison, New York. Her Political activism included being one of the founders of Philipstown for Democracy.

Sarah was a force of nature whose indomitable yet compassionate spirit will be missed by all who knew her. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, Sarah’s memory be honored with contributions to Sanctuary for Families, P.O. Box 1406, Wall Street Station, New York, NY 10268-1406. Plans for a memorial service will be announced.

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