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Andrew C. Bourke, Sr. Commemorative Tribute

Andrew C. Bourke, Sr., 95, member of “Greatest Generation”

Andrew C. Bourke of Somerville, NJ passed away peacefully at Morris View Health Center in Morris Plains, NJ, on May 11.  He was 95.

“Andy” was born on August 2, 1924 and grew up in Somerville, where as a boy he was an altar server at Immaculate Conception Church, was active in the Boy Scouts, participated in the school music program as a drummer, and was a high school cheerleader.  After graduating from Somerville High School at age 16 in 1941, he had a brief career at the Ruberoid Company in South Bound Brook before joining the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943.  In his first assignment running errands to New York, he would sometimes spend his lunch allowance to see big bands such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Paramount Theatre.

During World War II, he served in the First Air Force as a crew chief on Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes.  After completing training, he was stationed at combat crew training stations at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, CT and Mitchell Field in Uniondale, NY.  After the war, he returned to Somerville and joined the Somerville Fire Department, where he served as a volunteer firefighter at West End Hose Company No. 3.  He later attended Rider College in Trenton, NJ, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education in 1950.

Upon graduation from college, Andy moved to Wappingers Falls, NY where he began his teaching career at Wappingers Central High School.  He taught business subjects including accounting and stenography while serving as the faculty advisor of the student newspaper.  It was in this new hometown that he met the love of his life, Regina Lyons, and they were married at St. Mary’s Church in Wappingers Falls on January 19, 1952.  Their marriage would last 61 beautiful years.

While teaching, Andy attended New York University in the evenings, earning his Masters degree with a focus in Public School Administration.  In 1957, he accepted a position as Business Administrator of Scotia-Glenville Central School District in Scotia, NY.  While working in Scotia, he was elected President of the New York State Association of School Business Officials.  In the 1970s, he served as Business Administrator and Board Secretary of Liverpool Central Schools in Liverpool, NY, and Oneida City Schools in Oneida, NY.

Andy and Regina had three children:  Andy Jr., Ann Marie and Jim.  Andy enjoyed spending time with his children and was a dedicated father.  Throughout his career, he was active in fraternal and community service organizations, including Knights of Columbus, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and Rotary International.  In 1980, Andy accepted a position as Business Administrator of Pequannock Township Public Schools in Pompton Plains, NJ, and the Bourkes returned to Somerville.  He retired from his 35-year career in education in 1987.

During his retirement years, he served as president of the Somerville Board of Education; Treasurer of the West End Hose Fire Company; usher at Immaculate Conception Church; bass drummer in several marching bands; and assistant funeral director at the Cusick and Hillsborough Funeral Homes in Somerville and Hillsborough, respectively.  In 2018, he moved to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, where he was in the company of other esteemed firefighters.  One of his greatest joys during retirement was spending time with his grandchildren, both of whom are involved with scouting; he was especially proud to see his grandson, Matthew, earn the rank of Eagle Scout in 2019.

Andy is survived by his son, Andrew C. Bourke, Jr. and daughter-in-law Diane Bourke of Oro Valley, AZ; son James Bourke and daughter-in-law Claudia Bourke of New York, NY; grandchildren Matthew and Catherine Bourke of New York, NY; sister Gertrude Bourke Rizzi and brother-in-law Louis Rizzi of Sarasota, FL; brother-in-law John Lyons and sister-in-law Olive Lyons of Wappingers Falls, NY; sister-in-law Shirley Bourke of Parkville, MD; generations of nieces and nephews, and countless good friends.  He will be remembered for his kindness and generosity, his commitment to community service, his love of family and friends, and his pride in his hometown of Somerville.

A private burial service will take place on May 18 at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Bridgewater.  There will be a memorial Mass followed by a celebration of his life at a later date, due to the current restrictions of the pandemic.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Boy Scouts of America, Greater New York Councils.