School, dad put Tom Burke on track
Tom Burke, Northfield assistant fire chief, was raised in Skokie. He and his wife Amy are raising their three children Abigail, Connor and Ashley in Northfield. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 9, 2013 11:52AM
We caught up with Thomas P. Burke, Northfield assistant fire chief, just before his children’s. Christmas pageant at Northfield St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Parish. Burke, a 1983 Skokie Niles West high school graduate and his wife, Amy, 15-year Northfield residents, have three children: Abigail, 12, attends Avoca West School District 37 Marie Murphy School in Wilmette. Connor, 7, and Ashley, 5, attend Avoca West Elementary School in Glenview.
Q. So Tom, any “old school” memories?
A. Oh boy, that’s a long time ago! I grew up in Skokie and I went to St. Peters School. It’s hard to bring up one. I have four older brothers. Everybody went to St. Peter’s (Catholic Parish and School in downtown Skokie). It’s an old-time school. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a close-knit group. All of the families know each other.
Q. How does Skokie stay with you?
A. My mother (Joyce) still lives in Skokie. My brother (Jerry) lives in Skokie. My brothers are Pat (Macomb, Ill.), Mike (Lake Forest) and Jim (Boca Raton, Fla.). I’m the baby.
Q. What’s your favorite food?
A. Pizza. Thin crust. (I’m) a cheese guy, just plain cheese …
Q. Your fav pizza joint?
A. Probably the Village Inn in Skokie.
Q. Your children will attend New Trier H.S. What impact did your Niles West days have on you?
A. I played football, a little bit of baseball for a couple years. I think they (Niles West H.S.) led me in the right direction. The faculty was friendly and always willing to help you. They did a good job.
Q. What’s your fire safety advice?
A. Be careful for candles. Make sure everybody has a working smoke detector in their house and just everybody, be safe.
Q. What’s Northfield family appeal?
A. I just like it because it’s family-oriented. It’s small. It’s a good community. Everybody’s very friendly.
Q. What about your Northfield workplace?
A. They’re very appreciative. All of the department heads are very good. They care about you as a person. It’s a fun place to work. The members of the fire department and public works are all good guys. Everybody gets along. It’s a good place to work.
Q. Your father, Robert, a retired Skokie firefighter, passed in April. He served in the U.S. armed forces and clearly influenced you.
A. Yeah, I guess he did. He never came out and said to become a firefighter, but I think that by just watching him and his actions, I kind of liked it.
Q. You must be proud of your father’s legacy.
A. I’m very proud of my father. It’s going to be rough without him. This is the first Christmas without him, so we’ll see what happens.
Q. You’re looking ahead to a New Year, 2013?
A. Yeah, like I said, I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good year. Last year it was rough with him passing. Hopefully, this year is going to be a good year. I hope that all of my family is healthy, happy, and everybody has a great and safe 2013.