Ellen Burke, long-time co-publisher of the Holtville Tribune, passed away Monday, August 8, at her home in Evanston, Illinois, after a long period of declining health. With her husband, the late Quentin Burke, Mrs. Burke published the Holtville Tribune and operated its associated printing business for 26 years from 1964 to 1990. During their tenure, the Tribune was honored five times by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
Mrs. Burke was born Ellen Ingham on January 2, 1929 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, a daughter to George Ingham, an ophthalmologist, and his wife Betsy. Ellen grew up in Stratford, attended local schools, and earned a bachelor of arts degree at Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in Home Economics from the University of Guelph. An avid sportswoman, she had spots on the women’s basketball and hockey teams at Queen’s, and spent her spare time in outdoor pursuits including canoeing and skiing. She also obtained her private pilot’s license. She worked an elementary school teacher in rural Ontario, and at Chatelaine Magazine and later Baker Advertising Agency in Toronto.
She met Quentin Burke, an Australian traveler and journalist, then living in Toronto, on a canoe trip in 1956, and in him, found someone who shared her love of outdoors and travel. The two were wedded in Toronto on May 25, 1957. Their most memorable trip followed soon after in 1958 as the couple embarked on a seven month trip from Toronto to Australia, traveling most of the distance in a modified Volkswagen Beetle. Embarking at Wales, the couple traveled through England and Scandinavia, traversed the European mainland, and drove on through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, a voyage unthinkable in today’s more turbulent political climate. They traveled by boat across the Bay of Bengal to Penang, Malaysia and then from Singapore to Perth, Australia. From there, they continued across the Nullabor Plain to Melbourne, celebrating Christmas with family there.
The Burkes lived in Australia for five years, where Mrs. Burke continued to work in the advertising industry, until the birth of her first child, Victoria, in Brisbane in 1961. The Burke family emigrated to the United States in 1963, arriving at San Francisco, California, where son Robin was born in 1964.
Late in 1964, the Burkes purchased the Holtville Tribune and its associated printing business. In addition to journalistic and office duties, Mrs. Burke was the newspaper’s advertising salesperson, and made extensive contacts throughout the Imperial Valley business community.
Like her husband, Mrs. Burke was heavily involved in community service in Holtville. She was a member of the Holtville Women’s Club, the local chapter of the National Association of University Women, and the Friends of the Holtville Library.
With her husband, she was heavily involved in the American Field Service foreign exchange program, serving as an area representative.
The couple maintained their love of travel and the outdoors, including camping, backpacking and hiking through the southwest, and traveling to destinations in Europe. In later life, they became active members of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society, and were frequent participants in bridge hunting trips in Arizona and southern Utah.
Mrs. Burke is survived by her children: son Robin Burke and his wife Roshanna Sylvester of Evanston, Illinois, and daughter Victoria Burke and her husband Paul Raymont of Toronto, Canada. There are two grandchildren, Ian Burke of Chicago, Illinois, and Morgan Sylvester of Evanston. Mrs. Burke’s two brothers Keith and Kenneth predeceased her.
The family is planning a memorial event in the Imperial Valley on Friday, December 8. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.