Michael John Burke, 71, died Wednesday, January 27, 2021 in Hospice of the Valley – Dobson House – from complications related to esophageal cancer. Michael or “Mike” as he always termed himself, fought a mighty battle against his cancer in the months prior to his death. He died peacefully in his sleep with his wife Carol and daughter Melinda by his side.
Michael leaves behind his wife of 39 years, Carol Burke; his daughters, Melinda Burke-Harrigan and Danielle Kissick-Smith (Todd Smith); and his grandchildren, Alexandra Harrigan and Storm Zacchi.
Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 11, 1949 and lived a full and interesting life. He began his career in law enforcement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and then went on to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). His professional experience then led him to Atlantic City, New Jersey where he worked for Resorts International Hotel and Casino during its infancy in the New Jersey gaming industry. He worked his way from a compliance officer to training security officers. When Donald Trump came to New Jersey, Michael was his Director of Security at his first property, Trump’s Castle. Michael also was asked by Donald Trump to run his helicopter fleet – Trump Air. When Trump began construction on his new property, Trump Taj Mahal, Michael was hired to create, hire and train a security team from the ground up for the new property.
Later in life, Michael continued his education and completed two master’s degrees from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) – a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in crisis and emergency management.
Michael continued his carrier as a casino security executive throughout the country. In Las Vegas, he was Director of Security for the newly built Boomtown Casino. He was also Corporate Director of Security for three properties owned by MGM – Primm Valley, Whiskey Pete’s, and Buffalo Bills. He went on to be the Vice President of Security at the newly constructed Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, California, and at Greektown Casino in Detroit, Michigan.
Michael was also very active in politics. For the last four years, he was twice elected and served as the Chairman for the Pinal County Republican Party in Arizona. In the weeks prior to his death, he had just been elected to an unprecedented third term.
Michael was known for telling his incredible stories from a life full of interesting people and places. When diagnosed with cancer, Michael stated he had no regrets and he “had a great life.” That life included his love and pride for his family and the friendship and respect of his professional collogues.
Michael will be returned home to the east coast where a memorial service will be held at a later date. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made directly to Hospice of the Valley – Dobson House, 1188 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, AZ 85224. During the last days of his life, Dobson House opened their home to him and his family and provided dignity, care and comfort. Donations would be appreciated so they can continue to care for patients and families with their amazing brand of compassionate care.