Michael 'Mickey' Burke Sr. Passes; Arrangements Set

In loving memory of Mickey Burke Sr.
Published: May 8, 2024 02:10 pm EDT

Beloved husband, father and grandfather, Michael “Mickey” James Burke Sr. of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania passed away unexpectedly on Monday, May 6 at the age of 87 in Florida. He was surrounded by his family.

Mickey left behind his wife Sylvia, who he adored. The couple would be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 29.

He was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania on Aug. 11, 1936 to parents David and Anna (Gibbons) Burke. He married the love of his life Sylvia (Skittle) Burke on Aug. 29, 1964 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Together, they had five children, Michael (Melia McCracken Oddi), Ronald (Diane), Michelle Hill, Melissa Patterson (Brian) and Rebecca Setaro (Sean). Mickey would also proudly tell you he had eight grandsons, Derek Hill, Ryan Burke (Marissa), Dylan Hill (Paige), Bradley Burke, Kevin Patterson, Anthony Setaro, Burke Patterson and Vincent Setaro. He was immensely proud of his family and anyone who had the pleasure of spending time with Mickey would undoubtedly be captivated as he told stories of his children’s accomplishments and his lifetime of adventures.

Mickey was preceded in death by his parents, David and Anna Burke, and three brothers, Regis, Robert and Jack Burke. Also, a special pet Willy. He is survived by his elder brother, Patrick, who currently resides in Maryland.   

Mickey was a lifelong lover of horses. Beginning with jumping horses as a young teen and owning his first harness horse at the age of 19. Mickey then went on to run a successful car dealership (Mickey Burke Pontiac and Buick in Brownsville, Pennsylvania). In 1981, Mickey convinced his wife Sylvia to take a leap of faith and turn his hobby into a career and Mickey Burke Stables (currently Burke Racing Stable) was established. Mickey would go on to have an incredibly successful horse racing stable with the entire family being involved in the business. Mickey remained actively involved with the horses up until his death. If asked, he would tell you he never worked a day in his life because he loved what he did. He became the first harness horse trainer to surpass $10 million in one year and won the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year Award in 2006. He and his wife were named to the Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame in 2021. Two years earlier, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association.  

Mickey was a very generous man who was always willing to help those in need. He loved to attend racing events and horse sales and he could be found “holding court” with visitors stopping by all day to give him a hug, ask his opinion and probably hear a few stories. These events will continue without him but will never be quite the same. 

Mickey held his faith very dear and was a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic church. 

Friends will be received on Friday, May 10 from 2-8 p.m. in the John B. Greenlee Funeral Home, Ltd., 2830 Main St., Beallsville, PA 15313. A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, May 11 at 12 p.m. at the St. Katherine Drexel Parish Richeyville campus with Rev. Michael Zavage as Celebrant. Interment will follow in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, McMurray, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Burke patronized multiple charities. In lieu of flowers, consider donating to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, your local Food Bank, St Jude’s Cancer Hospital or a charity of your choice.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends and Mickey Burke Sr.

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