Myrtle Burke Family Remembrances
Myrtle Josephine Burke
August 8th, 1919 to October 23rd, 2017
As soon as John and Eugene Burke set eyes on their daughter Myrtle, the eighth day of the eighth month 1919, they were in love with their eighth child, their sixth daughter.Myrtle grew up believing that she was her dad’s favorite. Her childhood was filled with traveling from Fair Prospect to several parts of the eastern parishes of Jamaica with her father, to whom she was attached. He was a local preacher with a preaching circuit (route). He preached in Quaker churches and later Methodist churches. She took pleasure in bragging about her trips with her father to all the unknown districts of Portland.
She attended Rural Hill Primary School, where she learned patriotic songs and poems that she has used throughout her adult life. Her love for gardening began as a child. By the time see was in her early twenties, she owned her own garden. She was a constant companion to her father, always accompanying him to Council Hill, the family farm, where he cultivated a variety of spices, palms, fruits, vegetables and roots.
She became an independent woman early in her life. She was a generous, loving, family person who cared deeply for family, friend and the less fortunate. Myrtle left Fair Prospect to work in Kingston at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. With the closeness to her name, she was affectionately called Banks by her siblings. In Kingston she was still surrounded by family. She shared fond memories with her sisters, who were raising their families or furthering their education. During this period her father’s health declined; she was anxious to assist her elder sister with his care, a reason to go home.
While back in Fair Prospect, Myrtle became the aunt to go to. Ian, who was the first nephew to be living at the family home, looked up to her for leadership, then Derrick, Hyacinth, Beverly, and Trenton. Shortly afterwards, John, Olive, Peter and Diane arrived to join the big family of nieces and nephews.
It was Olive and who had Myrtle’s heart. Olive became Myrtle’s daughter and her life involved loving and protecting Olive. All the nieces and nephews are able to recall several occasions when Aunt “Myrt" entertained guests, provided cake and ice-cream on the weekends for the community, took us to the beach, or gave us a whopping, in that loving order.
Later in Myrtle’s life, she became closely involved in two renowned Quaker-founded schools in Jamaica — Swift Percell Boys Home and Happy Grove High School. She was a house mother in both institutions. From there she migrated to the United States where she worked in Connecticut and New York.
While working in the U.S., she traveled several times back to Jamaica creating a home for herself and Olive, and assisting and entertaining family members along with friends. She took several trips to England and other areas of the continent to vacation with her nieces, nephews, cousins and schoolmates.
Myrtle was the ‘giver.’ She gave her labor, her time, her gifts and her heart to her focus project. Whether this was a child, a building or a job, she did it with commitment. In her down moments, which were few, Myrtle spent time doing puzzles and reading. She loved to bake and had a ‘sweet tooth.’
In 2015 Myrtle traveled to her beloved Jamaica for the final time. She enjoyed every minute of her stay because all her existing family assembled for her glorious 96th birthday party. This was only a little we were able to give back for her endless generosity.
With failing health, approximately two years ago Myrtle entered a nursing home facility. She was faithfully visited there by her grand-nephew, Basil, every Sunday up to her passing. Her daughter Olive, nieces Hyacinth, Beverly, Karleen, Una, Diane and nephews; Derrick, Trenton, John, Peter, Charles, grand and great-grand miss her dearly.
May her soul rest in peace and God’s perpetual light shine up on her face.