Genevieve

March 4, 1928 ~ December 13, 2009

Born in: Los Angeles, CA
Resided in: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Burke, Genevieve E., a 26-year resident of, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. passed away on Sunday, December 13, 2009 at Kindred Hospital Westminster (extended long-term acute care facility) after a courageous battle with a long illness, pulmonary fibrosis. She is deeply loved by her family, her friends, and countless children whose lives were touched by her 20 years working at Vista Grande Elementary School. These were her hobbies, her passions…the pure and centered life, unaffected by the chaos and materialism of our society.

Jenny (Jean as she was called growing up) was born on March 4, 1928 in Los Angeles, CA to her parents Charles and Theresa Cavanaugh. She was a kind and loving daughter all of her life. She was very active in the Catholic Church as a child and young adult. She graduated from Lincoln High School Class of 1946. There she was very involved in the theatrical department and upon graduation attended Los Angeles City College but she gave up her secret passion of becoming an actress to attend to everyone else’s needs before she could complete her college education.

She worked at Millirons Department Store as a Personnel Trainer until she married her husband, Raymond F. Burke, in 1952. They met while she was on a vacation with her girlfriend on Catalina Island, while his Navy ship was docked there for the evening. This encounter was the beginning of a 42-year fairy-tale romance that only some of us ever knew; they loved each other deeply and everlastingly. In 1977, they celebrated their 25th Anniversary with renewal of their marriage vows and a cruise to the Caribbean islands. During her 42 years of marriage with Ray, Jenny loved to cook and they both enjoyed having holiday gatherings. She inherited her Mother’s (Theresa’s) exceptional talent of Italian cooking, and her Father’s (Charles’) passion for focusing on the positive. Jenny and Ray both had hoped for a long and relaxing retirement, but his early passing left her feeling so empty. Although she never could subside her heartbreaking ache, she tried to remain positive and involved in her family’s life for the next 15 years.

It was only after her children were grown, the youngest in high school, that Jenny began her journey on a road that touched many children’s lives…and enriched hers immensely. She began as a playground aid at Vista Grande Elementary School in Rancho Palos Verdes. Soon, after realizing she had found her life’s passion, she began as a teacher’s aid for third grade. Those 20 years gave her so much happiness and contentment. We know without a doubt she will never be forgotten.

She taught us the meaning of devotion, of sacrifice and of true love…in her active life and in her long battle with her illness. She was known as the patient who always had a smile and a kind word for each health professional who helped her over the last eight (plus) months. There are not too many of us who will ever claim that victory. Jenny is preceded in death by her husband, Raymond F. Burke, her son, Raymond F. Burke, Jr. preceded her passing in 1999, after a courageous battle with a long illness as well, her father, Charles E. Cavanaugh, and her mother, Theresa L. Cavanaugh. We know that she now is in their loving arms. She is survived by her second child, Dr. John C. Burke, and her youngest child, Cynthia J. Burke.

Jenny is also survived by her very loving and devoted brothers and sisters-in-law, John and Theresa Cavanaugh and Charlie and Mary Cavanaugh. She has two grandchildren, Joshua Burke and Justin Burke (from her son, John) and a daughter-in-law, Janie. She was especially touched by her special “adopted” children Sheryl Burger, Laura Massoth, and Kori Carrasco who remained lovingly devoted to her during her commitment to life over the last eight (plus) months. Sheryl’s unconditional affection and never-ending devotion is particularly an inspiration to all of us…and was so very deeply appreciated by Jenny. “Aunt Jean” will be lovingly remembered by her nieces Diane Esser, Julie Pellant, Theresa Matarazzo, Patricia Cavanaugh and Sonia Harvey, who continue to carry on the traditions of her family.

Jenny’s life is one that we all hope to have, because she lived for the heartfelt, soulful connection. When the heart aches, as hers did, there isn’t anything that can fill it or mend it…except to be reconnected, which we all celebrate for her today. She may have never become an actress, but she will always be our cheerful entertainer.

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  1. As a child, I remember on Christmas Eve how Auntie Jean would work so hard on the special preparations at Grandma’s house. She was as excited as my four sisters and I. It was because of her that our Christmas stockings were so very special every year. She would be beaming because she had helped put them together.What a great memory! Thank you Auntie Jean for your love.

  2. Although we never had the chance to know you mom everyone I spoke to at the funeral held her in the highest regards. She must have been a light to the world. She surely will be remembered for eternity.

  3. My fondest memories of my Auntie Jean were one Christmas when I was 7 or 8 years old. I wanted an easy bake oven and she knew my parents probably could not afford it. So she bought me mini cake mixes and mixing bowls in a set. It amazes me now, that with all she had to do, with her own children and all of the planning for Christmas, she took the time to hear my heart and meet my dreams. I loved the way she would call me “honey”. Every time I hear the word, I think of her. She just had a way to make you feel so special. Another favorite memory of her is when I would catch her lovingly glancing at me from across the room and she would give me that special “wink”. It made me feel so special and loved. She was a wonderful Aunt and I will miss her.

  4. I have so many fond memories of my Auntie Jean. The holidays were always so much fun with her around. When we would arrive at her house she would be the first one to the door. She was always dressed so festive, but what I really noticed was her smile. Her excitement was contagious. As a child I felt that something wonderful was going on. Her excitement was to have us there and feed us the most wonderful food she had been preparing. I remember that I couldn’t wait to see my cousins. My Uncle Ray would pick me up and swing me in the air and hold me. What a wonderful greeting. The house was filled with warmth and decorations, and the smell of the wonderful food that was awaiting us. I will never forget my Auntie Jean and Uncle Rays house. Along with their love and warmth. I always knew how much I was loved and missed. My Aunt would always make sure there was enough food for seconds if we wanted. It was her way of making sure that we were content and happy, if we wanted more we could have whatever we wanted! She would say honey do you want more? What do you need? As a kid that made such an impression. Whether it was Easter or Christmas my Auntie Jean made every holiday wonderful and magical. She was an entertainer. I will never forget her wonderful smile, and her joking personality. She was so much fun to be around. Thank you Auntie Jean for such wonderful memories, and the efforts you put forth for us. Thank you for always making us feels so special. You will forever be in our hearts. Today I try and pass on your wonderful traditions to my own children. Love you , Sonia

  5. Jean will always be remembered and loved by us – as a very caring, very sweet and very loving sister. We are blessed to have had her in our lives. Charlie and Mary

  6. Hi John and Cindy, When I think of your mom I remember her smile, laughter, and dancing. She had a playful way about her that always made me laugh. She adored your dad and would always be worried when he would swing us around by our arms and legs. Can’t you just picture it out on the grass in front of grandma’s house? His glasses would always fly off and that was even more exciting. I loved it! Your mom always made sure we had fun and would let us ride down your hill in a go-cart! It felt like we were going a hundred miles an hour, especially when we would crash at the bottom. Then there was your cool playhouse in your backyard. We would go back there and hang out. You always had such cool stuff. I loved that. One time Patty and I spent the night and we all went out for pizza. Grandma and grandpa came a few days later and picked us up. I think grandpa was going about five miles an hour as he drove us back to their house. Patty and I also went to Rosarito Beach with your family and had such a good time. Your mom was very sweet and caring. I sat with her and your dad when they came to my grandma Petra’s 80th birthday. It was so good to see tnem both. When Butch was just a baby we were in the P.V. area and stopped to see them. Your mom held him and your dad even changed his diaper! They were so excited to see us. I also remember getting birthday cards from your mom and finding money in them. That was so cool and thoughtful. We had so much fun together at the park, at grandma’s and grandpa’s house and at eachother’s homes. Can’t you just taste all the yummy food? Your mom was a big part of all those celebrations and loved us all. She will always be a part of my life and my memories. Love to you both, Julie

  7. Goodbye Jean till we meet again. I will always treasure the times we had together as family and friend. You were always there for everyone and such a sweet person. I know you are in a better place and with those you love as we all will be someday..see you then, xxoo, Elsie

  8. MY BIG SISTER: I MET MY SISTER WHEN SHE WAS FOUR YEARS OLD, AND AS I GREW UP, SHE WOULD ALWAYS REMIND ME OF WHO WAS IN CHARGE……………… “GO TO CHURCH, GO TO CONFESSION, DON’T HANG AROUND WITH THOSE BOYS, GET YOUR MOTHER A CHAIR”. HER COMMANDS CAME FAST AND OFTEN AND I KNEW THE CONSEQUENCES IF I DIDN’T OBEY…………. HEAVEN FORBID. BUT, AS I LOOK BACK ON THAT TIME OF MY LIFE I CAN TRUTHFULLY SAY THAT IT MADE ME A BETTER PERSON AND I THANK HER FOR LOOKING OUT FOR HER KID BROTHER. JEAN, I WILL MISS YOU AND EVEN THOUGH WE DIDN’T SEE ENOUGH OF EACH OTHER IN OUR OLDER YEARS, I WILL TREASURE THOSE MEMORIES FOREVER. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART AS MY BIG SISTER. KNOWING THAT YOU ARE WITH YOUR HUSBAND AND YOUR SON GIVES ME GREAT PEACE AND WHEN I SEE YOU AGAIN, I KNOW THE FIRST THING YOU WILL ASK ME WILL BE “DID YOU GO TO CHURCH AND GO TO CONFESSION”? YOUR LOVING BROTHER, JOHN

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video tribute to Jenny. She was such a caring, loving classroom assistant at Vista Grande. All the kids knew she loved them. We loved her too. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to attend the funeral. Fondly, Claudia

  10. Jenny was my classroom aide at Vista Grande School for many years. She made a huge, positive impact on everyone that she met-teachers, parents and children. She took her job seriously, always striving to give her very best. Her love for the children was so great, and they knew it. They sensed that she was the one who would give them all the help that they needed, and “shelter from the storm” after a tough day. It was even heart wrenching for Jenny to mark all of the mistakes that they made on their papers. Jenny always was so willing to help my teaching partner, Claudia, and me do everything from scrambling eggs for a Mother’s Day Breakfast to consoling us when we had had a rough day. It was no surprise to any of us that she got the “Palos Verdes School Bell Award” for dedicated service. Jenny spoke so fondly of her family, her Ray who would scrub the kitchen floor before family events, her children, who she was so proud of, and her mom(someone she called daily before she came to school) who provided her with the famous lasagna recipe that was served at family gatherings. A gentle, kind, fun-loving, caring woman…that was Jenny Burke. I’m thankful that she touched my life, as I too learned from her.

  11. Remembering Jean My first memories of my cousin Jean are gatherings at her house—or maybe it’s the pictures that make it a memory—photos of most of the cousins in front of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Francis’ house. My father, Chester, made sure that visiting the family was often a Sunday afternoon activity. Jean and I are both named for our grandmother, Giovanna Biffi, although she died the year before I was born ( I would have been “Barbara Ann”—but when I was older I would have liked it if they had named me Giovanna.) My later memories of Jean are after Mac and I moved to Torrance in 1962 and we visited Jean and Ray in Inglewood—and one time it was to see the new baby, Cindy—they were so happy when you were born, Cindy. Later we visited them in Palos Verdes, but that might have been after we moved to Illinois in 1968, and when we came back for visits. My father always made sure I visited Uncle Charlie and Aunt Francis…and this continued after my father died in 1981—my mother and I would always go visit Aunt Francis—often taking her to lunch at Lawrys, which she loved. I remember that we visited Jean too. One time we came out for a cruise to Mexico (might have been 1972), and had a “Bon Voyage” party in our stateroom. Jean and Ray came, and Jean was so impressed that she said she wanted to go on a cruise—and I’m glad that they did take a cruise several years later. It was very obvious that there was so much love between Jean and Ray—he was such a gentle man. Ray and I graduated from East Los Angeles College at the same time—June 1957—and Charlie’s wife, Mary, was the college librarian while we were there. Jean had some very rough times–missing Ray so much, and then young Ray. I was sorry that I hadn’t seen Jean in recent years, although I did talk to her on the phone several times when I was in California. I still have to go through a big suitcase of photos that I brought here from my mother’s house—and will send you some—I’m sure there will be some of the Biffi and Cavanaugh families. I’m sure they will add to all the wonderful memories of Jean.

  12. I met Jenny 26 years ago and from the first day that I met Jenny and Ray they both treated me like one of their own daughters. They were my adopted parents. Jenny and Ray, which I include Ray because they were like one. The love that they had for each other was truly admired. I never met a couple that truly respected and loved each other like they did. My fondest memory of Jenny was her thoughtfulness. She would always include me in their family gatherings. I loved going to the “get together” at Grandma Cavanaugh’s house. Everyone would bring a dish of food, wow could Jenny cook, talk and have a great time. I can see where Cindy gets her excellent culinary skills from. Besides the family gatherings, Jenny and Ray would also include me in family vacations to Las Vegas. Okay, what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas. After Ray went to heaven, Cindy and I would drive up to RPV to pickup Jenny for lunch and a trip to Trader Joe’s for she would have enough groceries for the week. She enjoyed going to Coco’s and having a beef dip and a piece of pie. Our get together were not as frequent in the past few years but when we did get together it was always so much fun. I’m grateful to have known Jenny and too have had her as my adopted Mother. For that I am truly blessed and fortunate. She is deeply missed.

  13. Cindy and Family, Our Deepest sympathy in the loss of your mother, a dear friend and client of ours for so many years. May God Bless you and your family, as we know Genny is in His loving care now along with your dad, Ray.

  14. I feel like I could write a book about Mrs. Burke and all that she meant to the kids on Lomo Drive (Darcy, Marty, Elaine, and me). She was the happiest mom on the street. She was the life of the party, even for us middle school and high school kids. Her beautiful smile was warm and friendly. I LOVED the obituary that was posted here. I printed it for my mother, who really appreciated it as well. There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember Mrs. Burke and pray for her and for her intentions. I pray for her every day at mass when I remember my brother and my aunt. Three beautiful souls were called home to the Lord at the end of 2009. Mrs. Burke’s love for her children and husband and dog Damon are practically legendary. I hope I live up to that great love in my own marriage and family life. She was a beautiful example for all. Her daughter Cindy was my favorite friend of all time. She has a loving heart, and she was as well-loved as her mom was, by everyone. I wish we were closer, but the memories of a perfect childhood with Cindy and the Burkes, and the warm hospitality and friendliness of Mrs. Burke, will live on in my heart for years to come. I hope to spend more time with them all in heaven someday. Mr. and Mrs. Burke must have had a beautiful reunion. Theirs is quite a love story. It was a nice reminder to read that Mrs. Burke had worked at Vista Grande. That’s a crucial detail of her life that showed how special and loving she was. I am glad so many children got to know the Mrs. Burke from Lomo Drive that we all cherished so very much. She was also a life-long friend of my mom and Gilda. My mom treasured her friendship with Mrs. Burke, and she misses her dearly. Mrs. Burke, we love you! God bless you, and thank you for all you have given to us. 🙂

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