Helen Grace (Punky) Burke


First Posted: 7/27/2013

Mrs. Helen Grace (Punky) Burke, 76, of Duryea, passed away Thursday, July 25, 2013 at University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia.

Born in Pittston, she was the daughter of the late Jack and Emma Purcell Miller. She was a graduate of Pittston High School, Wilkes University and the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her masters degrees in art and education.

Mrs. Burke was truly the heart and soul of Holy Rosary School, Duryea. In her professional capacity, she served as the chairperson for the school’s first Middle States Accreditation in 1991, and co-chairperson for the 2001 Middle States Re accreditation.

She was a member of the National Catholic Schools Teachers Association, a mentor teacher for new faculty members, and organized faculty book clubs and learning communities. However, her real love was her students, and she spent countless hours beyond the school day with them. Throughout her teaching career she taught third, fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and on any given day you could find her tutoring after school, or working on extracurricular activities.

Mrs. Burke started a Summer Reading Book Club for her fourth graders, who enjoyed meeting at her house, floating in her pool with books in hand, and snacking on goodies. Her love of music inspired her to start the HRS Junior Choir in 1986, and she directed it for twenty years. Mrs. Burke also initiated the Forensic Program at Holy Rosary, and was the varsity and junior varsity team’s moderator until her retirement. She willingly shared her amazing artistic talent, designing and building props and sets for all school events, literally turning paper, tape, and glue into beautiful decorations.

One of her favorite pastimes was rolling down the hill at McDade Park with her students on their class trip.

Even in retirement, Mrs. Burke never really left Holy Rosary School, coming each day to work with students in the school’s Title I program. Generations of students and faculty will agree: she has left her hand print on each of our hearts.

She was a member of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Duryea.

She was a loving wife, mom, sister, aunt, and friend.

She and her husband, Paul, celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary this past June 24th.

Also surviving are: a son, David Burke and his wife, Heather, of Duryea; a daughter, Rachael Carns and her husband, James, of Sewell, New Jersey; brother, Edward Miller and his wife, Kathy, of Bear Creek; brother, Jack Miller of Thornhurst; brother, William Miller and his wife, Mary, of Duryea; sister, Emma Ruth and her husband, Bruce, of Jenkins Township; nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. from the Bernard J. Piontek Funeral Home Inc., 204 Main Street, Duryea with the Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 a.m. in Holy Rosary Church, Duryea with the Rev. Andrew Sinnott officiating.

Interment will be in Holy Rosary Cemetery, Duryea.

Family and friends may call Monday at the funeral home from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to Holy Rosary School, 125 Stephenson, Duryea.

To leave the family an online condolence or for further information, please visit our website at: www.piontekfuneralhome.com

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