SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Tuesday night we remember a local icon Frank Burke, a member of the St. Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County, who suddenly passed away just days before the parade.
Eyewitness News sat down with two of Burke’s close friends and fellow parade association members to talk about his impact on the community.
Frank Burke was born and raised in Scranton and made countless friends along the way. He was a huge part of the St. Patrick’s Parade, which will take over the streets of downtown Scranton in just a few days.
“Having a parade without Frank is tough…It’s going to be,” Burke’s friend, Shane Cawley said.
Burke was the kind of guy who brought people together. His closest friends say he knew just about everyone in Scranton, and he cared about them too.
“Everybody he ever met instantly became a friend, and friends instantly became family, and he would check up on everybody,” Burke’s friend P.J. Lahey said.
“Frank was the guy that put smiles on people’s faces. Everybody. Frank could light up the darkest of rooms. He had an energy that was larger than life,” Cawley said.
The 37-year-old suddenly passed away on Saturday from natural causes. His untimely death rocked the entire community.
“My little guy, he’s four…So I told him, ‘Uncle Frank’s not with us.’ It was just one of the saddest things ever…Ever…Crushing,” Cawley said.
Burke passed away just one week before the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade, which the pandemic had pushed to September 18th. Burke was a member of the St. Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County. Friends say he was honored to help organize the parade every year.
“He took great pride in everything he did helping to put together this parade for the city. He just really loved it and loved everybody in it,” Lahey said.
The life of the party, Burke worked as hard as he played. He was a maintenance supervisor with the Scranton School District and vice president of the local Service Employees International Union.
A natural leader, a local icon and friend to many. At the V-Spot, bartenders lit a candle under his picture where they saved him a shot of Jameson. Many plan to wear t-shirts and pins in honor of Burke to the parade in just a few days.
“Having the parade so close to his passing it almost changes the way that we feel about it…It’s almost as if it’s a parade for Frank,” Cawley said.
There will be a mass of Christian burial at 11 Thursday morning at St. Ann’s Basilica. Donations in honor of Frank can be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or the American Sleep Apnea Association.