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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURKE, THOMAS A. (ALOYSIUS) - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURKE, THOMAS A. (ALOYSIUS) (30 Oct. 1898-5 Dec. 1971) served as Cleveland law director and mayor. Born in Cleveland to Thomas A. and Lillian McNeil Burke, he received his B.A. from Holy Cross College (1920), and his LL.B. from Western Reserve University School of Law (1923). He was assistant county prosecutor from 1930-36; and in 1937, the state attorney general appointed him special counsel to prosecute vote fraud. Burke became Cleveland law director under Mayor Frank Lausche in 1941, and mayor when Lausche became governor in 1945. As an independent Democrat, Burke was elected mayor in 1945 and served 4 terms. During his administration, he presided over a large capital-improvement program, including a lakefront airport built on landfill, the first downtown airport in the country (see BURKE LAKEFRONT AIRPORT). He campaigned for a charter amendment passed in 1951 giving the mayor power to appoint and dismiss the police chief, and helped establish a free municipal parking lot adjacent to the shoreway.

When U.S. Sen. Robt. Taft died in 1953, Gov. Lausche appointed Burke to fill Taft's Senate seat. In the 1954 election Burke lost his bid for the seat to Congressman GEO. H. BENDER†. He retired from politics but continued practicing law as senior partner in the law firm Burke, Haber & Berwick. Burke married Josephine Lyon in 1923 and had 2 daughters, Barbara (Mrs. Terrence J. Martin) and Jo Anne (Mrs. Stanley L. Orr). After Mrs. Burke's death in 1964, he married Evelyn Sedgwick. Burke was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.

Thomas Burke Papers, WRHS.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 04:49:42 PM

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