Â A friend called, I thought that she was having a heart attack when I answered. This is the Obituary that she read. NO, this is not me.
Jean Burke, 76, died peacefully on the 9th of May 2011, surrounded by her loving family.
Jean was born on the 25th of October 1934, in Hallettsville, Texas and grew up in Schulenburg, Texas. She graduated from Schulenburg High School in 1952, and attended and graduated from The University of Texas. Jean was a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority and served as President of the Tau chapter for two years. She was also a member of the Texas SDT Educational Foundation and a member of the National SDT board, traveling the country as the first Field Secretary. Jean majored in journalism and was a member of Orange Jackets, one of the first honorary and charitable student organizations at UT. After college, she moved to Houston and met the love of her life, Gene. Gene and Jean celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past February. In 1971, Jean founded Aerial Gardens which was known for its bromeliads. Jean truly had a green thumb and loved growing orchids. After selling Aerial Gardens to Ambius in 1984, she continued working there as a top saleswoman and recently retired after working for 40 years in the horticultural field.
Jean was a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution John Everett Chapter. She also belonged to both Congregation Beth Israel and Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism in Houston, and Temple Israel in Schulenburg.
"She Jean" or "Lady Jean", as she was affectionately known, is survived by her husband, Dr. Gene E. Burke, her loving children, Gregory Burke of Houston, Tracy Burke of Golden, Colorado, and Jeff and Christina Burke of Houston. Jean will be remembered as a wonderful grandmother to Alex Burke and Ben and Sophie Ostrov. She was the ultimate big sister to Phyllis and Howard Hengst and Paula and Rick Stein, sister-in-law to Connie Burke and Barbara Harberg, a very special and best friend to Sally and Scott Anderson, godmother to Jessi Anderson and niece to Amy Schwartz Lake of New Orleans, LA. She was a special aunt and great aunt to many nieces and nephews. Jean was preceded in death by her parents, the Honorable Hirsh and Felice Schwartz of Schulenburg, Texas, as well as Frank and Ruth Burke, Leonard Burke, Ronnie and Marcia Burke and Beryl Harberg.
Jean loved life and lived it to the fullest. Twelve years ago, Jean fought lymphoma cancer. She had one of the early stem cell transplants at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and beat the odds for 10 years. Jean was always available and so willing to help other lymphoma and cancer patients since she was so grateful for the care she received from M.D. Anderson. In 2001, Jean's many friends honored her courage with a cow named "Little Jean Moorie" in the Houston COW parade.
Jean and Gene loved attending Texas Longhorn football games, entertaining, dining, poker with the poker group, traveling the world, attending concerts at Festival Hill in Roundtop, and just gardening and spending time with family and friends on the family farm, The Yellow Windmill in Schulenburg.
Jean was a true friend to everyone and knew no stranger. Her contagious smile was her trademark throughout life and will serve as her lasting legacy to all who knew and loved her.
The family would like to thank Dr. Starr Bordon, the staff at M.D. Anderson, her wonderful caregivers Socorro Perez, Tootie Rogers, Jose and Marcela Ramirez, and the staff at The Montebello Condominium for their care and friendship.
The memorial service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock this morning, Wednesday, the 11th of May, in the Sanctuary of Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 North Braeswood Boulevard in Houston, where Senior Rabbi David Lyon, and Rabbi Steven M. Gross, of Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism in Houston, are to officiate.
The family will gather for a private committal service at Beth Israel Cemetery.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family respectfully requests donations in Jean's name be made to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX, 77210; Temple Israel of Schulenburg, P. O. Box 602, Schulenburg, TX, 78945; Star of Hope Mission, P.O. Box 1505, Houston, TX, 77251; or the charity of your choice.