Frank J. 'Hal' Burke, arborist and Korean War veteran, dies

Frank J. “Hal” Burke, a decorated Korean War veteran who was the founder of Scientific Plant Service Inc., died Feb. 17 at Season’s Hospice at Sinai Hospital from complications of a fall. The Westminster resident was 88.

Frank Jude Burke was the son of Francis Nelson Burke, a horticulturist, and Catherine Shaughnessy, an elementary school teacher. He was born in Valhalla, N.Y., then moved with his family to Reisterstown.

A 1947 graduate of Franklin High School, Mr. Burke enlisted in the Army in 1951 and served in Korea. He was discharged with the rank of master sergeant in 1954. His decorations included the Bronze Star.

He attended the University of Maryland, College Park, on the GI Bill and obtained a bachelor’s degree in entomology.

In 1957, he established Scientific Plant Service Inc., a landscaping design business, on Falls Road. He operated the company until selling it in 1975.

Mr. Burke then joined what was known as the Baltimore Association for Children — now known as the Arc of Baltimore — where he established horticultural and janitorial programs to train individuals with developmental disabilities. He retired in 1991.

Mr. Burke, who previously lived in Reisterstown, played both clarinet and saxophone and had his own dance band, the Knights of Rhythm.

He was a member of American Legion Post 116 in Reisterstown and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Glyndon.

He was preceded in death by two wives, Mary Jeanne “Jill” O’Mara and Nancy Steele.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fletcher Funeral Home, 254 E. Main St., Westminster.

Mr. Burke is survived by two daughters, Kathleen Burke Stanton of Westminster and Mary Pauline “Molly” Burke of North Point, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Colleen Libonate of Baltimore; and three grandsons. He was also preceded in death by a daughter, Sarah “Sally” Burke Berry and Jane Curtis, a stepdaughter.

--Frederick N. Rasmussen

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