Betty Burke. Photo courtesy the Burke family.
Betty Burke. Photo courtesy the Burke family.

Elizabeth Burke died December 25, 2010 in Ajijic Mexico — a village that she dearly loved. She was 78 years-old and is survived by her husband, Edward, following 59 years of happy marriage. Elizabeth was born in New York City in 1932 in the same hospital her husband had been born in. She met him when she was 13 years-old and married him five years later. She earned a degree at Hunter College in New York City and then flew with Edward to Seattle where they lived for 46 years. She gave birth to and is survived by her daughters Linda Anne Broderick, Sheila Siobhan and Allison Patricia. She will be missed by her grandchildren; Andy, Bobby, Anika, Keegan, Becca, Kallum and Korry.

She became a pre-kindergarten teacher in the Head Start Program prior to returning to college at Seattle Pacific University where she earned a Masters Degree in Creative Education. She taught at a Seattle school for gifted children until her husband completed the renovation of the Kobe Park Building containing the Nippon Kan, a historic Japanese American theatre. Elizabeth assumed management of the theatre and led historic tours of Seattle’s International District. Under her guidance, the heritage and life of the Nippon Kan was restored. In 1990, the Emperor of Japan bestowed on her husband the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Gold Rays and Rosette. Because Edward and Elizabeth shared all of the grief and joy in restoring and operating the Nippon Kan Theatre, he believes the award should have been given to both of them.

In 1994, Elizabeth and her husband retired, sold their Seattle home and purchased a small motor home. They drove their home throughout the United States and Canada and through every state in Mexico. For the past 13 years they have been spending six months of every year in Ajijic.

Betty was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2007, received a double mastectomy and radiation treatment. She was given hormone treatment but by June of 2010, the cancer had spread throughout her body. She refused chemotherapy. Following several weeks of ineffectual injections she returned to Ajijic in November for her final days.

Betty then enjoyed seven weeks surrounded by friends, birds and sunshine living in a lovely home and reading books on a sun drenched patio. She gradually became weaker and finally collapsed two days before her death. She died on Christmas day with Edward at her side.

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