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FNR Remembers Alumnus, HTIRC Advisory Committee Member Bob Burke

Robert Dean “Bob” Burke, who received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue Forestry and Natural ResourcesHeadshot of Bob Burke in 1960 and was instrumental in the creation of the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC), passed away on April 25.

Burke, who spent 35 years in the forestry industry with the former Pierson-Hollowell Company, served as an industrial forester before retiring in 2006.

“The HTIRC mourns the passing of Bob Burke, whose dedication and passion for forestry have left an indelible mark on our organization,” said Matt Ginzel, director of the HTIRC and a professor of Forestry and Natural Resources and Entomology at Purdue. “Bob was instrumental in establishing the HTIRC at Purdue and served on our Advisory Committee from the beginning. His invaluable insights and guidance helped shape our mission and priorities. Bob’s unwavering commitment to advancing the science of tree improvement and sustainable forestry has been integral to our efforts and will continue to inspire us in the years to come. We pay tribute to his life of service and are grateful for his contributions to forestry and the HTIRC.”

Thanks to his close relationship with Senator Richard Lugar, Burke was able to encourage Lugar along with Purdue and the U.S. Forest Service to found the HTIRC in 1998.

The Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center’s mission is to advance the science and application of tree improvement, management and protection of hardwood forests, especially those in the Central Hardwood Forest Region. The HTIRC is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, Purdue FNR and many other agencies, companies and individuals. For more information on ongoing research in the HTIRC, read their latest annual report.

Burke joined the National Tree Farm Association in 1960. He became the chairman in 1968, a role he served in for the next 50 years. He also was one of the founding members of The Walnut Council in 1970. He was a member of the Society of American Foresters for more than 50 years, serving as secretary-treasurer and later Section Chair.

The New Market, Indiana, native was honored as an Indiana Society of American Foresters fellow in 1986. Burke earned the Purdue College of Agriculture Certificate of Distinction honors and the Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the state of Indiana in 2014. He also received an Honorary Doctorate in Agriculture from Purdue in 2010.

Burke’s work with The Walnut Council, the Society of American Foresters and the National Association of Conservation Districts as well as the HTIRC have made lasting impacts which will reach well into the future.

A full obituary is available on the Neal & Summers website.

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