May 22nd Club Meeting: Bob Burke, Attorney, Author & Historian
Bob Burke has written more historical non-fiction books than anyone else in history. He was born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and now practices law and writes books in Oklahoma City.
Burke graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and a law degree from Oklahoma City University. He was director of the Department of Economic and Community Affairs (now the Department of Commerce) in the administration of Governor David Boren and managed Boren’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1978.
Burke has written on such diverse topics as baseball, aviation, art, and religion in Oklahoma. His biographies of Wiley Post and books on the history of baseball in Oklahoma and about the Oklahoma governor’s mansion have won the Oklahoma Book Award. His biography of Bryce Harlow was named the outstanding Oklahoma history book of the year by the Oklahoma Historical Society. His book about the life of Ralph Ellison was nominated as a 2005 Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma book selection. Also in 2005, his book about traveling Oklahoma timber towns was named book of the year by the Oklahoma Museum Association.
Burke’s community service is extensive. He has served on the governing boards of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the Jim Thorpe Association, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation, the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society, Red Earth, the Wiley Post Commission, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and executive committees at Oklahoma City University and at the University of Oklahoma where he is an adjunct professor in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
In 2004, he received the Governor’s Art Award for Excellence in the Arts in Oklahoma and was named to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Oklahoma Center for the Book. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2006 and received the OU School of Journalism Alumni Award in 2007. Burke was named as one of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation’s Treasures for Tomorrow honorees in 2008. In 2010, Bob became the first recipient of the Lee Allan Smith Oklahoma Legacy Award and was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. Bob received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Oklahoma City University in 2011.