On Saturday, January 20, Trustees past and present, joined by members of the Board of Visitors, our administrative team, members of the Burke family, and friends, gathered to honor Bill and Patty Burke for their 34 years of loving service to St. Sebastian’s. The event was hosted at The Newbury (formerly The Ritz), which, in a full circle moment, happened to be the site of the New Century Fund Dinner to celebrate the first major campaign undertaken during Bill’s time as Headmaster.
The evening opened and closed in prayer. The speaking program featured friends and colleagues of Bill dating back to his days at Middlebury College. Following opening remarks from Board President Jim Elcock ’77, P’08, the crowd enjoyed a video roast of Bill by members of the staff and administration, set to the theme of the TV show, "The Office." Chris Burr, Bill’s Middlebury classmate, shared memories of “Burkey,” from their college days and their life-long friendship. Jay Stroud - a colleague of Bill’s when they both worked at the Holderness School and when they served on the NEASC Board, who also served as former Head of School at Tabor Academy- talked about Bill’s momentous journey as he rose through the teaching and coaching ranks into an administrator and leader in the New England independent school world. Terry Kennedy P’93,’98, who served on St. Sebastian’s Board when Bill was hired, spoke on behalf of the Trustees from the 1990’s. Terry graciously acknowledged several pillars of the school community from that era, many of whom were on the Search Committee that “delivered the GOAT of all headmasters, William L. Burke III.” While many of them have passed on to eternal rest, several were in attendance and continue to serve as stalwart members of the St. Sebastian’s community. Current Trustee Cathy Daniel P’15,’18,’20 remarked on what a welcoming, enthusiastic, and faithful presence Bill has been to St. Sebastian’s families throughout his distinguished tenure.
Following these memorable tributes, Patty thanked numerous friends and mentors for their roles in the Burke family’s St. Sebastian’s journey. “This evening is kind of our shared destiny - pulled here by Bill, his St. Sebastian’s legacy, as well as his 50 years as an independent school teacher, coach, administrator, and headmaster, as well as an incredible husband and dad,” shared Patty. In conclusion, Headmaster Burke addressed those assembled, citing the prayer he had prayed to our Lord through the intercession of St. Jude: “Please, Lord, put me in a place where I can best serve you and my family.” This destination came to be St. Sebastian’s and he has never looked back.
Please mark your calendars for the community-wide celebration of Headmaster Burke on May 18.