Col. Robert L. Burke Sr., military spokesman

Robert L. Burke Sr., an Army colonel who retired in 1977 as director of defense information in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, died Jan. 31 at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. He was 85.

The cause was a stroke, his son, Robert L. Burke Jr., said.

Col. Burke graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1952. He served as an artillery officer early in his career and later as an information officer and military spokesman.

He served in Korea in the early 1960s and held command positions during the Vietnam War. In 1972 and 1973, he was chief of information for U.S. military operations in Southeast Asia. He became director of defense information at the Pentagon in 1974.

His decorations included the Defense Superior Service Medal and three awards of the Legion of Merit.

After his military career, Col. Burke joined the American Newspaper Publishers Association, where he retired as a senior vice president in 1991.

Robert Lawrence Burke was born in Corning, N.Y. In 1964, while serving in the Army, he received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Alabama.

He lived in Fairfax County before moving to Orange, Va. in 1995.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Dorothy Halvorsen Burke of Orange; four children, Randi Richards of Orange, Karen Morison of Fairfax, Robert Burke Jr. of Fredericksburg, Va., and Elizabeth Edwards of Springfield, Va.; a sister; a brother; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes

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