January 23, 1919 ~ May 25, 2008
Jeane Burke-Foley died peacefully May 25, 2008 at home in Rancho Palos Verdes following a short illness.
Born January 23, 1919 in New York to Henry and Alice (Oliver) Barnbrock, she was raised in Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica. Graduating from "Samohi" at 16 years of age, she earned her B.A. in French from UCLA in 1940 where she met her husband of 58 years, William R. Burke, in a public speaking class.
A freelance writer, she began as a professional journalist in high school reporting on the social scene, courts and films for the Santa Monica Evening Outlook. During World War II, she penned top-secret technical manuals to help our service personnel learn to operate RADAR.
In 1945, she and her husband founded William R. Burke Public Relations, Inc., a legislative advocacy firm specializing in humanitarian issues. Among their first efforts was the repeal of the Oriental Exclusion Act, which made it possible for "legally resident aliens" to become United States citizens. Their work on behalf of Displaced Persons of Europe after World War II enabled thousands to relocate to the United States. They believed in the sanctity of life and advocated that a non-denominational coalition spearhead pro-life efforts and that a phrase from the US Constitution, "right to life" be used as a motto.
In 1955, the Burkes moved to Palos Verdes Estates where they raised their four children. In 1960, when William was elected National Commander of the American Legion, she moved their family to Bermuda for the year so the children would have a foreign experience while their father traveled the world visiting SHAPE and NATO operations and heads of state in 11 countries.
At 83, she married Daniel F. Foley, a Minnesota Appellate Court Judge and past National Commander of the American Legion. He died two weeks later on their honeymoon.
Jeane lived life with enthusiasm. She was the first woman up Mt. Starr King at 17, bicycled 200 miles one day at the age of 51 and 80 miles on her 80th birthday. She danced around a Maypole each 1st of May and at a Boy George concert at the age of 82.
Serving on the first Palos Verdes Estates Planning Commission, she initiated beautification efforts that included street tree ordinances, pocket park landscaping and a fountain for Lunada Bay. She worked tirelessly to ensure public access to and along the edge of the Palos Verdes bluffs would be included in all future development plans. She promoted bicycle lanes and trails so children could commute safely to and fro and experience a sense of freedom while, at the same time, their mothers would be liberated from making so many unnecessary trips that clogged our roads. Evidence of her persistence includes the beach bike path from Santa Monica to Torrance as well as trails from PVE's southern border to the lighthouse, from Long Point south toward Abalone Cove and along Palos Verdes Drive North.
She is survived by her children, Brandon (Sue), Sharon, Susan, Thomas (Daryl-Lynn); her grandchildren, Brian (Kristin), Kevin (Benita), Morgan and Spencer; her sister, Lois Tangeman; her stepsons, Dan, Tom, Kevin and Rory Foley and their 10 children. Her son, Christopher Thomas, died in infancy.
A Vigil and Rosary will be held Thursday, June 5th at 8 p.m. at St. Lawrence Martyr Church, Redondo Beach with a Funeral Mass on Friday, June 6th at 1 p.m. Interment is Saturday, June 7, 11 a.m. at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. She was grateful for the efforts of Little Company of Mary San Pedro Rehabcentre, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro 90732 and had a special concern for Thomas Aquinas College, 10000 North Ojai Road, Santa Paula, CA 93060.
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