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Walter L. Burke Jr. 1915 - 2011

May 02, 2011

Walter L. Burke Jr.  1915 - 2011

Walter L. Burke Jr. was born in Stamford, TX on Aug 17, 1915 to Walter L. Burke Sr & Minnie Moore Burke.  In the early 1920’s the Burke family moved to Southern California to the Pasadena area. Walter was interested in flight from an early age, designing & building model gliders and experimenting with parachute designs using his father’s hanker chefs.  At 15 Walter, using ingenuity and spare parts designed, built, and flew a full size glider. He carried this interest through-out his education in aeronautical engineering at John Muir Tech in Pasadena, CA.

 In the early 1930’s Walter Burke, Wallace Neugent, and Irv Culver were the only remaining members of the “Crown City Glider Club”. The threesome built and flew gliders some that became extremely well known like the “Ding Bat” and the “Ding Bat 2”, but there was one very special Glider that was different from any glider of the time, the “Screamin Wiener” as it was named was smaller than any other glider that had been built and extremely maneuverable. During its life the glider won awards for design and flight records.

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During the WWII the three worked for Lockheed and were among the original aeronautical engineers of the Lockheed Skunk Works working the design of the P-38 Lighting, the Hudson Bomber, and many other aircraft that were critical to the war effort.  Among his other many achievements, Walter worked on the design of the first mechanical knee for amputees and the first diving spring board. Walter was also involved in the early manned-space effort.

While working at Lockheed Walter found the love of his life, Gloria C. Stewart. Walter and Gloria were married in December of 1950 and made their home in the Chevy Chase canyon in Glendale, CA where the family remains today.

Walter made his final flight into the heavens on April 29, 2011 at 96 years of age, surrounded by his family and close friends.

Walter was preceded in death by his parents Walter & Minnie Burke, his brother-in-law & Sister Roy & Faye Darby and many wonderful friends. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 61 years Gloria Burke, his niece Sandra Hannan & her husband John Hannan both of Tenmile, Oregon, and niece Tamara Burke of Barstow, CA.

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