Horace Burke

UPDATE:  There will be a memorial service honoring Shirley and Horace Burke beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center, 3001 S. College Ave. in Bryan, Texas. Refreshments will be served.

Horace R. Burke, of College Station, passed away on September 6, 2016.  Horace was born April 1, 1926 near Elkhart, Texas to Franklin Parks Burke and Minnie Lee Walling Burke.

After attending Elkhart High School, he served in the United States Army 17th Airborne Division, 194th Glider Infantry in World War II.  He also served as part of the 13th Airborne and 82nd Airborne Divisions.

Upon resuming civilian life back in Texas, Horace attended Sam Houston State University where he earned a degree in Biology, then achieved his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Entomology from Texas A&M University.  After working for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station for several years, he became a professor of Entomology at Texas A&M in 1958, where he continued to teach and perform scientific research for nearly 40 years.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley Darrow Burke; a son, Daniel R. Burke of Pflugerville, TX; a daughter, Cheryl Burke Jarvis, of Carbondale, Illinois; and his siblings, Johnny Parks Burke and Billie Sue Smith, both of Houston, TX.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Sam Houston State University for the Horace Burke Library of Natural History, c/o Dr. William Godwin, 2405 Avenue I, Suite E, Huntsville, TX, 77340-2092; to the Heart to Heart Hospice Foundation at http://www.htohhfoundation.org/; or to a charity of your choice.

A memorial gathering will be held for friends, colleagues, and family at a date and location to be determined.

For more information contact 

Callawy-Jones Funeral & Cremation Centers

3001 S College Avenue
Bryan, TX 77801
United States (US)
Phone: (979) 822-3717
Email: cjones@callawayjones.com


  1. Horace Burke was my friend and colleague since my first association with Texas A&M in 1972. His excellent scholarship ensured our students were very well versed in entomology and my graduate students in particular came to truly appreciate the tools he provided them that would guide the course of their varied careers. He made a real difference in peoples’ lives and in our science. We will miss him very much.
    He always provided excellent advice and shared many of his experiences with me in our periodic discussions. I had the privilege of recounting two of them in a Marvin’s Corner part of our old Entomology Newsletter.
    I will share one here: He told me of his childhood experience of discovering a turkey buzzards nest in the woods and bringing a chick back inside his shirt next to his chest perhaps intending to nurture it to adulthood. The chick apparently got a little excited before Horace got back into the barnyard and regurgitated on his chest and shirt, which immediately imprinted an unforgettable memory of the most awful smell/experience that nature could produce (and that includes his surprise discovery of a water moccasin wrapped around his water jug), and also moved birds way down his Things to Study in Natural History List. He did not lose his love of nature though as evidenced by his extremely productive career in science. I credit that turkey buzzard chick with providing the ‘teachable moment’ when a possible ornithologist became a confirmed entomologist.
    I was privileged to know Horace Burke. I am deeply sorry he is gone and will treasure those memories we shared forever.
    Marvin Harris

    • Dr. Harris,

      Thank you so much for posting the memories and stories about our father. We are always happy to hear from the friends and colleagues that knew him and worked with him for so long.

      The Burke Family

  2. I hope the Burke family can be there to comfort one another. Death in the family can be hard to deal with, for some more than others. But more than family and friends, God says that He can comfort us in all our trials and that He is the “God of all comfort” at 2 Corinthians 1:4

  3. When I was An Air Force medical entomologist in San Antonio and later a biologist with TPWD, I would frequent the insect collection at Texas A&M. During those visits, I enjoyed visiting with Horace. He was always encouraging me and never failed to offer kind words. He was a true professional and colleague. Rest in peace, Horace. It is an honor to have known you.

  4. Dr. Burke was an inspiring, demanding, and memorable professor and I consider myself truly fortunate to have taken his insect systematics class as a graduate student in 1978. I am so very sorry to hear of his passing. Please know that he is remembered with deep fondness, albeit mixed (even nearly 40 years later!) with anxiety at his critical eye on my insect collection. I wish I had remained in contact over the years, to let him know what an influence he had on my own teaching.

  5. Dr. Burke was a graduate student when my father, William B. Shives was an entomology undergrad in the late 50’s and he was my professor in the late 70’s in my entomology undergrad days. I have fond memories of him. Condolences to the family and Rest In Peace, Horace. God Bless your soul……..

  6. I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my mentor Dr. Horace Burke. As a young PhD student in his laboratory, I learned very quickly that his passion for weevils was second to none. Another fond memory is that students who took his insect systematics classes often referred to his exams as “graphite rodeos”. His dedication and contributions to the field of entomology were truly inspirational. Because my own research often involved weevils, I would send him specimens for the TAMU collection and papers that I had published. Thanks, Dr. Burke for enlightening me and so many others.

  7. I think about old, gone from the present, entomology folks. Difficult
    to forget the Osmond Breland, Jimmy Olson, Manning Price, Marshall
    Wheeler and so many more than I can remember. Horace Burke belongs in my memory also. I asked him to look at a specimen after publication.
    I was informed the genus was correct, so I was 50%. Not long after this oversight on my part, Professor Breland and I discovered something exciting and novel. This time I asked Dr. Burke to do the identification.
    It worked out better that way! With esteem and gratitude, I thank my favorite group of researchers and teachers – Entomologists. Horace
    Burke was among the best.

Sign the Guestbook