Arizona Obituary Archive

Search      Post Obituary

Fred Burke

Posted 2008-04-22 by Maurine
Wickenburg Sun, Wickenburg, Arizona
November 23. 2005


Fred Burke, long time resident of Wickenburg, passed away on Nov. 10, 2005. He was born June 23,1917.

A member of the 26th Arizona State Legislature, Fred was born and raised in California's Kern River Valley. After Only eight years of formal schooling in a one-room schoolhouse he was impatient for life, so he ran away to work on a ranch breaking horses and making extra money on the rodeo circuit. Ranching remained a common thread among his many activities throughout his long life.

With World War II about to start, he joined the 11th Horse Cavalry to become a 900day wonder officer with the 10th Mountain Division in a mule-pack company. As a Major, Fred was responsible for transporting thousands of mules and horses to Turkey under the Marshall Plan, when the Army decided that mules and horses were no longer needed here in the states.

His final job in the military was Director of Supply at Fort Huachuca. When he retired from the Army he was the last soldier to do so with the M.O.S. of "mule packer."

Fred was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 1962 from Cochise County. He served as the Chairman of the House Fish and Game Committee, as well as the Appropriations, Labor and Livestock and Public Lands Committees. He was defeated in his bid for a second term by the former incumbent Tay Cook, who'd been Speaker of the House before stepping down to make a run at the Arizona Senate.

After taking a water-measuring job with the U.S. Geological Survey at Lee's Ferry, Ariz., Fred and his wife Carol ran headlong into a nascent business: river running in the Grand Canyon. Fred and Carol founded Arizona River Runners in 1970, and for almost 20 years fulfilled their mission to provide countless others with the opportunity to experience the awesome nature of the spectacular Grand Canyon by rafting the Colorado River. They treated everyone who worked for them like family and in so doing they created an extended family that has held together for over thirty years - long past the time they sold the company and retired to Wickenburg.

Fred remained active in issues surrounding the management of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, as well as public lands and cattle issues. Fred's experience with mules led to his appointment to the U.S. Department of the Interior BLM Wild Horse and Burro Board. In 2000, because of his military career and a long term of service on the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Board, he was made "Most Honored Packer" at the Bishop, Calif., Mule Days Celebration.

He is survived by his daughter, Judy Welch, six grandchildren, Kelly Johnson, Cindi Seipel, Jim Crum Casey Welch and Trasey Welch. He is preceded in death by his younger daughter, Pat Crum, and his beloved wife, Carol.

He was a great friend, teacher and fighter. He lived his convictions, never gave up, never gave in, and never forgot the golden rule. He helped a lot of people in ways large and small over the years; to all of them he was a steadfast friend, supporter, confidante, and counselor; He will be sorely missed, and he will not be forgotten.

A celebration of his extraordinary life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Everett Bowman Rodeo Grounds in Wickenburg. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the charity of choice.

Note: These obituaries are transcribed as published and are submitted by volunteers who have no connection to the families. They do not write the obituaries and have no further information other than what is posted within the obituaries. We do not do personal research. For this you would have to find a volunteer who does this or hire a professional researcher.

Questions About This Project?