Cover photo for Irene S Burkhart's Obituary
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Irene S Burkhart

November 8, 1927 — January 8, 2024


Irene S Burkhart

Lifelong Cleveland resident Irene Burkhart died Monday, Jan. 8 at her home in Ambler Court at Judson Park. She was 96.

Born on Nov. 8, 1927 to Cecelia and Joseph Szelong, Irene grew up bilingual, often translating for her Polish immigrant parents. An only child, she graduated from Flora Stone Mather College with a degree in education, the first in her family to receive a formal higher education.

Irene married Robert Burkhart on June 16, 1951 after meeting on a blind date. The couple were opposites in many ways, but complemented each other well. In retirement, for example, Bob wanted to earn a pilot license and buy a plane. Irene wasn’t wild about the idea, but agreed to be his partner in flying and study for her pilot license if he agreed to enroll in ballroom dancing classes. A deal was struck and the pair later bought a plane that they flew across the country and to Alaska.

While raising six children, Irene resumed her teaching career, putting in more than 20 years leading a fifth-grade classroom at Gesu School. After retiring, Irene followed her calling, volunteering with multiple organizations to tutor elementary students and adults.

She and Bob were adventurous travelers, circling the globe by plane, train, ship and car.

Not long after Bob’s death in 2013, Irene moved to Judson Park. In later years, she was buoyed with support and love from staff caregiver Denise Hanson, who she considered a friend.

Irene is survived by children Richard Burkhart, Joan Whitely, Beth Burkhart, Ken Burkhart, Bonnie Hedrick and Lanie Hughes; by cousin Clara Kovach; and by seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Interment Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Family and Friends are invited to gather for Mass of Christian Burial 10 am Tuesday, January 23 in The Marian Chapel of Church of The Gesu, 2470 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, OH 44118. FRIENDS MAY CALL AT THE MAHER MELBOURNE FUNERAL HOME, 5236 MAYFIELD ROAD, LYNDHURST, OH 44124 ON MONDAY, JANUARY 22 FROM 3:30 TO 7 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Famicos Foundation, a Cleveland non-profit supported by Irene and Bob that works to revitalize neighborhoods with affordable housing and integrated social services.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Irene S Burkhart, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Monday, January 22, 2024

3:30 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Maher Melbourne Funeral Home

5236 Mayfield Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)


Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

12:45 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery

10175 Rawiga Rd, Seville, OH 44273

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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