The subject of this week’s biographical sketch is a man of letters who has an interesting page of life behind him and in all probability a more interesting one yet to be written. We’re sure you recognize Mr. J. L. Burke, Jr.
Mr. Burke was born November 28, 1902 in Hobart, Oklahoma Territory, a native Sooner. He attended grade and high school in Hobart and began his college work at the University of Oklahoma at Norman. While a freshman, Mr. Burke transferred to Ohio State University. Here he became prominent in the field of music, was a member of the Board of Directors of the one hundred piece university band and Co-Student Director of the orchestra. Mr. Burke was an active member of the University Choral Club. The above mentioned activities were, of course, outside the regular curriculum of college work and made a very heavy program for a boy who was working to support himself in college. Mr. Burke first took a job as janitor and in less than one year was promoted by the same firm to position as salesman. In his Junior year another honor was bestowed upon him in the form of the National Vice-Presidency of the Kappa Kappa Psi, which is an honorary band fraternity. As such, Mr. Burke became acquainted with such outstanding musicians as John Philip Sousa. In January of 1925 he was elected to the National Presidency of the organization mentioned above and continued in this office until 1927. During this period he devoted much time in visiting musical organizations most of the states of the Union.
In May of 1938 , Mr. Burke was married to Miss Joyce Grass at Amarillo, Texas. The following fall he resumed work for his degree at West Texas Teachers College. Both Mr. and Mrs. Burke attended school for one year when he received his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Educational Administration and co-minoring in English and Social Science.
After acquiring his degree Mr. Burke returned to Amarillo College of Music as music director until 1930 when he came to New Mexico as principal of New Hobbs High School. After consolidation of the Hobbs and New Hobbs High Schools he became teacher of Social Science and later acting principal of the high school.
In 1933 Mr. Burke received his Masters Degree from Texas Tech. His thesis was written on “Personnel Study of School Board Members in New Mexico.”
In 1933, Mr. Burke was elected Superintendent of Jal schools. During his residence in Lea County, he has been Extension Instructor in the regular faculty for New Mexico University and East New Mexico Junior College. Individuals who have done work for college credit in this type of adult education will exceed two hundred.
During the eight years of his residence in Lea county, Mr. Burke has been called upon to speak in various places and upon a large number of widely varied subjects.
In 1936, he was elected President of Lea County Teachers Assocation and has held the post for two years. He also has been selected as the member from New Mexico for the National Education Association Committee on International Relations and in the past year was a member of the Resolutions Committee.
Mr. Burke is a member of the Baptist church and the Scottish Rite Masons, and is living in Jal with his wife and three children: Beverly Joe 8, Jenie 3rd, 6 and Marilyn, one year old.
Thus we bring to date a full and interesting life of one of Jal’s leading citizens.
[Jal Flare, Jal, NM. 25 Aug 1938.]