Brig. Gen. John Franklin Burk Jr., 87, war memorial chairman, ad executive


John Franklin Burk Jr., a retired brigadier general and advertising executive who was a past chairman of the state's World War II memorial at Annapolis, died of heart and kidney failure Friday at the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home in Northwood. The Timonium resident was 87.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Long Green in Baltimore County, he was a 1935 graduate of Towson High School. Drafted into the Army in 1941, he rose during World War II to the rank of captain and earned the Combat Infantry Badge, three Bronze Stars and three battle stars for his service in the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland and in Central Europe.

He joined the Maryland National Guard in 1946 and was named commander of the 3rd Brigade of the 28th Infantry Division in 1964.

He led the brigade through riot duty in Baltimore in 1968 after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and at the University of Maryland, College Park in May 1970, in response to student demonstrations protesting during the Vietnam War against the incursion into Cambodia.

In 1971, he was promoted to brigadier general and named assistant division commander of the 28th Infantry Division and commandant of the Noncommissioned Officer School for the Maryland Army National Guard. He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Crosses from Maryland and Pennsylvania. He retired from military service in 1975.

He sold advertising for WBAL-TV and WJZ before founding an advertising agency, New Concepts Inc. Family members said he helped produce a variety of training films and documentaries. He retired in 1987.

In 1991, Brig. Gen. Burk was appointed chairman of Maryland's World War II Memorial Commission and a project coordinator of Maryland's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, built in the median of Route 450 in a location that faces the Governor Ritchie Memorial Overlook on the northern bank of the Severn River.

He was a past president of the Maryland Society for the Sons of the American Revolution. In addition, he had been president of Help Hearing Handicapped and had been active in Boy Scouting.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Towson Presbyterian Church, where he was a longtime member and former deacon and elder.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Peggy Bartholomee; three sons, John Franklin Burk III of Timonium, James Steven Burk of College Station, Texas, and Todd Andrew Burk of Randallstown; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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