Her Life

Patricia Burke

Patricia was born in Potchefstroom South Africa on November 4th 1931, the daughter of English entrepreneur Charles Heyes and his Afrikaner wife Althea Steyn, a fashion designer. Following graduation, Patricia worked in the U.S. Embassy in Harare Zimbabwe for the Peace Corps as a translator, and later as executive assistant to the managing director of Royal Dutch Shell, which had started drilling for oil in Africa in the 1950s.

Patricia married Irish civil engineer Patrick Burke, and soon afterwards she devoted herself to rearing her growing family and supporting her husband, who was working in Zimbabwe on some of the premier public works projects of the time, including the Umtali Hills Irrigation Scheme, the Kariba Dam Hydroelectric Project, and several water schemes supporting the biodiversity of one of the world’s most important wildlife preserves: Hwange National Park.

The couple lived and worked in Canada, Zimbabwe, England and Wales, before settling down in Ireland with their daughter Felicity and two sons Thomas and Kevin. Following the untimely death of her first husband, Patricia married Patrick Fullam, together the couple had a son Mark. Patricia re-entered the workforce in Dublin, this time as assistant to the principal of the school her three sons attended. 

In retirement Patricia devoted herself to volunteering. While living in New York with her son Kevin she worked tirelessly for many organizations, including Manhattan food pantries, and for the American Museum of Natural History on the electronic version of Charles Darwin’s manuscripts in which Darwin recorded his travels to the Galapagos Islands. Patricia also made lengthy visits to Alabama where her youngest son Mark resides and where she worked as a volunteer in the hospital and school systems. Patricia forged lifelong friendships wherever she went.