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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Friday, June 11, 2010

Forestville's Bob Burke Goes to Heaven

Everyone's Hero - Bob Burke
is Welcomed into Heaven on June 10th, 2010

This is something everyone will agree on - whether you believe in Heaven or not - Bob Burke deserves to sit with angels in Heaven because he was an angel on earth.

My name is Gayla Gilliland and I work for Cattlemens Steakhouse. Also I was a near and dear friend of Bob Burke's. His funeral is scheduled for June 22nd at 10am at St. Rose Church in Santa Rosa. There will be a rosary held on June 21st at 7pm at St. Rose Church in Santa Rosa. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call or email. Have a wonderful day.

Lucky for him, he got the recognition he deserves a mere week before he died of a heart attack in his home. Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) honored Bob with the 2010 Independent Living Legacy Award and I am certain this will be celebrated in is honor at Burke's Canoes on June 30th at 6pm. Come to Forestville at the intersection of River and Mirabel Roads, sit under the majestic Redwoods and honor this man who honored every single person he touched.

Bob Burke has influenced the lives and hearts of thousands of people over the last 40-plus years. This one man started a personal mission to give kids who are sick and disabled some fun and a social life that is hard to come by. Every Wednesday throughout the summer he'd have a BBQ down by the Russian River at Burke's Canoes, owned by Bob and his siblings. In the winter months he'd have families and friends gather at bowling alleys, pizza parties and anything he could do to make life fun, at least now and then, for kids so sick life just isn't fun on a daily basis. These events made people laugh, spend time with others in their often isolated lives, and connect to share stories, ideas, solutions as well as love and appreciation.

Every year Bob worked with leadership groups from El Molino and Analy High school to help raise funds for his program. This not only brought in needed money, it also contributed to the lives and education of young people so gave Bob another opportunity to help youth.

Bob held fund raisers throughout the year to raise money for his cause. The biggest and best-known tradition in West County has always been the Christmas Holiday Dinner hosted and donated by the Gonnella family at the Union Hotel in Occidental.  People came just to be part of the fun, the tradition, to enjoy local school choirs, socialize with friends and donate money to Bob's personal mission. The Forestville Chamber of Commerce would change the date of their monthly meeting every year just to accommodate Bob's dinner so everyone could attend.

Bob brought Santa Clause to every Forestville Holiday Tree Lighting until his health started to impinge on his ability to sit for hours and greet children. He brought the Easter Bunny to the Forestville Easter Egg Hunt year after year - just for fun and to be part of his home town community. The Burke family has been an integral part of Forestville history for generations and Bob has been their Family Angel bringing his abundant love to people who need it most.

Bob Burke's Kids Program has been under the nonprofit umbrella of West County Community Services who help with the many volunteer efforts it takes to do Bob's good work. Please contact them if you would like to volunteer - donate money in Bob's honor or be part of what it will take to continue Bob's mission into the future.

When a Memorial Service has been scheduled - I'll let you know - or contact me:
Vesta Copestakes

Bob Burke's Kids Program - WCCS
PO Box 602
Forestville, CA 95436
(707) 887-2222

West County Community Services
P. O. Box 325
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 823-1640

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