R. C. BURKE.
(from CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ARKANSAS, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
(Chicago and Little Rock) 1922.
vol. 3, pp. 403-404)
In the passing of R. C. Burke, for many years a prominent resident of Helena, Arkansas lost a native son and a most representative citizen. He was born in La Grange on the 5th of May, 1863, and his demise occurred on the 27th of February, 1917.
In the acquirement of his education R. C. Burke attended the country schools in the vicinity of the home farm and was for a short time a student in the State University. He withdrew from that institution before completing his course, however, and returned home to assist in the operation of the Burke farm. His father had died when R. C. Burke was but a young lad. After devoting his attention to agricultural pursuits for some time he came to Helena and a little later became deputy sheriff under E. D. Pillow, an office in which he was active for six years. Subsequently he served as deputy sheriff under Lee Pendergrass for four years and was then elected sheriff. He served in that capacity for three terms, or six years, without opposition, his ability in discharging the many duties devolving upon him -winning for him the confidence and respect of his fellowmen.
Mr. Burke also became actively and successfully identified with business affairs. In association with E. C. Horner he built the Premier Cotton Mills of Barton, this state, acting as superintendent of construction and later as superintendent of the mill. He was also connected with Mr. Horner in the cattle business, owning a vast tract of land which was later developed into farming property and is now known as Burke's Pasture. It comprises about four thousand acres, of which twenty-five hundred acres are under cultivation, and it extends for more than four miles along the Mississippi river, in Phillips county. The success that Mr. Burke achieved in life was well merited, for he was in every sense of the word a self-made man. He started out with but one hundred and sixty acres of land, a small part of his grandfather's farm, and eventually became one of the wealthiest men in Phillips county. For years he was active in financial circles as a director of the First National Bank and he likewise served as a director of the People's Building & Loan Association and the Helena Compress Company. He was also one of the directors of the Cotton Belt levee board and the president of the Maple Hill Cemetery Association. He was universally liked and admired for his splendid business acumen and no man stood higher in the community for integrity and sterling worth.
Mr. Burke was twice married. In November, 1886, he wedded Miss Nannie Green, a native of Phillips county, and to their union were born three children, all of whom are deceased. On the 14th of December, 1907, he was again married, Bennie Hebron Lucy of Helena, becoming his wife. She was the widow of Walter Lucy and a daughter of Dr. J. L. Hebron, physician and surgeon of Hot Springs, Arkansas , and formerly a resident of Mississippi. He was in charge of the hospitals at Vicksburg during the Civil war and was a surgeon in the Second Arkansas Regiment. Dr. and Mrs. Hebron were the parents of three children: J. L., state senator and planter of Leland, Mississippi; Mrs. Burke; and G. B. Hebron of Mississippi. Mrs. Burke has three children by her first marriage: Jean Lucy, who is now the wife of J. T. Turner, connected with the Morris Packing Company of Chicago; Walter H., who is associated with the Burke Lucy Plantation Company and who married Emma Jean Binley of Little Rock, by whom he has one child, Emily Virginia; and Ben Hebron Lucy, who is likewise actively connected with the Burke Lucy Plantation Company at Helena. The last named wedded Susan Short of this place and is the father of one son, Richard Burke Lucy, still in his first year. Both Walter H. and Ben H. Lucy are progressive young business men and are held in high esteem in this community.
Mrs. Burke is prominently known in the club, social and church circles of Helena. She is a member of the Episcopal church, is president of the auxiliary to the Maple Hill Cemetery Association and has built a beautiful mortuary chapel in commemoration of her husband's life. During the period of the World war she took a prominent part in all war activities. One of her sons was stationed at Camp Joseph E. Johnston and the other at Camp Pike. Mrs. Burke is a woman of much culture and refinement Her early education was received in the schools of Clinton and Oxford, Mississippi, and she was a student at Whitworth College, Brook Lawn, Mississippi, four years. She is deeply interested in the Young Women's Christian Association work and is now a member of the world's service council of the Young Women's Christian Association.
Throughout his life Mr. Burke was a stanch supporter of the democratic party and the principles for which it stands and was always active in party affairs. His religious faith was that of the Episcopal church, to the support of which he was a generous contributor, and fraternally he was identified with the Knights of Pythias, Ladies and Knights of Honor and the Royal Arcanum. In early life he gained a reputation for straightforward business dealing and civic loyalty and at all times he wielded a great influence for good in this community.