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Special lady, special UK fan celebrates 94th birthday

Mary Ann Burke, center, showed off her UK blanket to Allison Tamme and myself earlier this year. (Gary Wood Photo)


I always knew that Danville’s Mary Ann Burke was a special lady — and yes, lady is the only word to describe her.

She turned 94 on Sunday and might be more active than I am at age 66. She’s always on the go whether it is taking a cruise, trip or just going out with friends.

She’s also as passionate as any University of Kentucky basketball fan I know. She once dreamed that coach John Calipari was bringing his team to her house for a picnic.

Her garage is decorated with UK pictures and posters. She seldom misses a UK game in Rupp Arena and I am sure she never misses watching away games on television.

I posted Happy Birthday wishes to her on Facebook and Twitter Sunday — and was amazed at the response it had on social media. It seems like everyone knows Mary Ann Burke. Of course, her family operates Burke’s Bakery, a legendary spot in our town. There’s nothing at Burke’s Bakery that is no good and for years Bill Keightley — UK’s Mr. Wildcat — often stopped at Burke’s for goodies and often had me bring fresh bread to him.

I also didn’t realize that she had been a first-grade teacher for 21 years. After her three sons started school, she went to Centre College to get her teaching degree and then worked as kindergarten teacher here in Danville.

Here’s a sampling of posts about her on Facebook just to give you an idea what this lady is all about:

Joan Hafley: “I have known you for years but I did not dream of you going to celebrate your 94th birthday. Happy Birthday I hope you have many more.”

Betty Durham: “Happy Birthday Mrs Burke, Hope it was an amazing and awesome one for you because you were one of my best teachers 1st grade in 1965 and being a part of the best job in high school at Burkes Bakery in the 70’s. You have aged well. May God’s blessings continue to flow your way.”

Clay Clevenger: “Happy Birthday Ms Burke!! She is also a big Danville Admirals Fan!”

George Coomer: “We sang her a congregational Happy Birthday at church this morning, I can only hope that if we all make it to 94 we are still as sharp and active as she is.”

Lori Smith Mefford: “Mary Ann looks great! Would never guess she was 94!”

Karen Floro: “Did you mention that she still drives to Lexington to the UK basketball games? Amazing lady!”

Marty Warren: “Happy Birthday, Ms. Burke!! Had her as a first grade teacher at Toliver a ‘few’ years back.”

Tony Gray Jr.: “Happy Birthday to one of my First Grade Teachers.”

Susan Key Shelton: “Yes, she’s a beautiful woman inside and out! She was my first grade teacher and left a lasting impression for learning! ❤️?”

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