St. Mary donor’s generosity leaves a lasting legacy for geriatric care, emergency services, and much more

Kathleen Burke, St. Mary donor(November 2017) - As a devout Catholic grounded in her faith, Kathleen Adell Burke was deeply motivated to include St. Mary Medical Center Foundation in Long Beach in her estate plans to help ensure that the values and mission of the medical center and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word would be supported for decades long after her passing. St. Mary lost their dear friend, Kathleen, in January. She was 94. 

Kathleen was kind and thoughtful to the end, remembering the medical center with a generous bequest to the foundation, which included a 50 percent interest in several rental properties held in her trust. The largesse of her gift – more than $3 million – will be dedicated to providing geriatric-centric care and services at St. Mary and notably, toward the pending emergency department expansion project, which will include six bays for senior emergency care use. She was also generous to other Catholic charities.

Kathleen was a humble, caring individual who lived a simple life. As a dietician and health advocate for seniors, American Indians, schools and the vulnerable, Kathleen developed and supervised meal and nutrition programs. In leading a relatively quiet life that involved traveling the world, she became an astute investor and was able to amass a sizable estate. She never married and had no children, yet cherished her Irish heritage and devotion to the Catholic Church. Her annual Irish Tea party was an event not to be missed and always included the Sisters of St. Mary, many of whom were Irish themselves. With a warm hug, she greeted her guests with her beautiful twinkling blue eyes, singing the well-known Irish tune, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” 

In addition to gifts of real estate, Kathleen’s trust also provided for the creation of the “Burke-Keating Family Fund”, which will ensure that a significant annual gift will come to St. Mary and five other charities in perpetuity. St. Mary staff say they feel blessed to have known Kathleen over their decades-long friendship with her, and to have been blessed with her generosity. Her gifts and her name, along with that of her family, will continue to have a profound impact on the care and services the hospital provides for generations to come.