James Bourke

Obituary of James J. Bourke

James J. Bourke March 20, 2021 James J. Bourke (80) of Jamestown, PA, passed away at the Meadville Medical Center in Meadville, PA, after suffering a massive stroke. Jim was born on August 15, 1940, in Honesdale, PA, to the late Charles O. Bourke and Mary Fives Bourke. He attended the one-room Beere School from first through eighth grade. All 14 students walked daily to and from school, as there was no such thing as busing or snow days. When it snowed, everyone including the teacher, Thelma Beers, brought their sleds and went sleigh riding during the lunch hour. Upon completion of eighth grade, all the Wayne County students were required to take a countywide entrance test for high school. Jim placed first. He completed his high school education at Honesdale High School in 1958. After high school, Jim joined the US Navy where he was trained as a Shipboard Electronics Technician. He served four years, mostly on destroyers, and then took a position with Consolidated Edison Electric Company in New York City. Desiring to further his education, Jim decided to go back to school with the aid of the GI Bill. He was accepted at Mansfield State College where three of his siblings were already attending. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 with a major in English. Jim, eventually, traveled to San Diego where he secured a job as an Electrical Technician with the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company. While living in CA, he developed an interest in running and competed in races ranging from 5K through marathons. Jim bought a houseboat on Mission Bay where he lived until his retirement in 2002. From his houseboat, he was able to sea kayak around the bay and along the southern coast of CA. He greatly enjoyed participating in kayaking and scuba clubs. After his retirement, Jim purchased a large motorhome and toured many parts of the US, volunteering throughout the US National and State Park systems. While traveling, he enjoyed biking, kayaking and fresh water fishing. One trip took him to a remote Pacific island shaped like an aircraft carrier, a training ground for pilots during WWII. Here he was able to photograph whales breaching and seabirds hovering up close. He soon became an accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer. He loved nature and all its wonders, taking many exquisite photos of birds, deer, elk, foxes, sunrises and sunsets. His home was filled with images of his wilderness journeys. He read voraciously from the classics to sci-fi to best sellers to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Jim is survived by his brother Charles (Bucky) Bourke, his sisters Sally Urmanec and husband Marsden, and Joan Eidenier and husband John; as well as nephew David Zelkowitz and nieces Julie Garman, Allison Zelkowitz and husband Mike Bruce and Mary Brown and husband Adrian, as well as several great nephews and nieces. There will be no public viewing or burial services. Arrangements have been provided by Jenkins-Howell Funeral Home Inc., Edward R. Howell, funeral director, 269 Belmont Street, Waymart, PA.
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