The Letter of the Week from Kevin Woods of Cumberland, “Colleen Burke was a hero,” was selected by the Times-News editorial board as the best letter of those that appeared during the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 4. It was published Nov. 1.

Note: Selection of the letter of the week is based on writing competence and the ability of the writer to get his or her point across. It is not based on whether the editorial board agrees with the writer.

Woods and our other Letter of the Week writers receive canvas tote bags embossed with the Letter of the Week logo. Here is an abridged version of his letter:


On Oct. 27 said our final good-byes to an “institution” in this community — Colleen Burke, affectionately known to me as “Mz” Burke. (See obituary, Oct. 26 Times-News, Page 7A.)

Rare are the times that a discussion can take place with everyone in agreement being the end result. “Mz” Burke is one of those rare opportunities. We test this theory of “agreement” with a few statements:

1. Colleen Burke was an educational “hero.”

2. Colleen Burke knew everyone she encountered by name.

3. Colleen Burke didn’t take no. Use your imagination

For every person who came to pay their final respects and celebrate the life of Colleen Burke must have felt as I did that although she physically was not there — she was still there.

She was there in every beautiful flower sent in her honor.

Flowers of every shape, size, and color. So poetic when you think of her personality.

She was there in every man, woman and child that came to share one last good-bye.

There in every name signed on page after page after page. Each one impacted in some way or another just by merely knowing her.

“Mz” Burke was there in every image that danced across the flat screen. To some never-seen private moments, to others cherished memories from days gone by.

She was there in every former student, every life-long colleague.

Surely a testament to how much she was loved and respected.

She was there in the loved ones she left behind. She allowed us to feel her presence through and in them.

That smile that always made you feel good. Those wide-eyed, raised brows that let you know “You’re pushin’ it.” That ground gripping, arms crossed stance that commanded any situation.

She was there in every lesson she taught and the stellar legacy she leaves behind.

She was there in the atmosphere that was warm, comforting and friendly, surely “Mz” Burke never met a stranger.

“Mz” Burke was there in our hearts and in our minds and in the memories we have forever.

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