Eleanor M. Burke, 90, Domino Sugar lab worker

April 15, 2002

Eleanor M. Burke, a lab worker at Domino Sugar and a volunteer at Bon Secours Hospital, died Thursday at St. Agnes HealthCare after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at her home in Catonsville. She was 90.

The youngest surviving daughter of Polish immigrants, she was born Eleanor Schultz in her parents' home in Canton and had lived in southwest Baltimore County for most of her life.

She dropped out of Catonsville High School to support her family during the Depression, taking a job in 1930 at the Domino Sugar refinery in Locust Point. She learned chemistry on the job and worked her way up to the post of bacteriologist, testing sugar for purity. It was at the refinery that she met the man she would marry, Raymond F. Burke, a cabinetmaker who served with the Army Air Corps during World War II.

She retired when they married, in 1947, and they lived in Baltimore Highlands until Mr. Burke's death in 1984. They had been parishioners at St. Clement I Roman Catholic Church in Lansdowne.

During her time at the refinery, she was a regular volunteer at Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore. She read to patients, took them food from the cafeteria and chatted with them about their lives. "My mother was great at waiting on people," said her son Raymond Daniel Burke of Monkton. "Although she prepared meals, she rarely sat down to enjoy one."

Her three sisters and two brothers lived nearby, and regular gatherings of her many nieces and nephews were a fixture in her life.

Since 1985, she had lived in Catonsville. As recently as a week ago, she had been in good enough health to drive to Sunday services at St. Joseph Monastery in Southwest Baltimore. A Mass of Christian burial will be held there at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her son, she is survived by another son, Michael Burke of Catonsville; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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