AUGUSTA, Maine – Longtime Appleton Selectman and Select Board Chairman Donald H. Burke received the Ethel Kelley Memorial Award at Maine Municipal Association’s 77th annual convention earlier this month. The Ethel Kelley Award recognizes distinguished community service and is considered MMA’s most prestigious annual award.
Burke has served his community in many capacities over a distinguished 26-year career. He has served as: chairman of the Select Board (19 years) and an elected Selectman (seven years); member of the Burketville Grange and Appleton Historical Society; board member of the Mildred Stevens Williams Memorial Library; and, town board representative of the Tri County Solid Waste Transfer Station.
In nominating Burke for the award, Town Clerk Pamela Smith and Deputy Clerk Rebecca Hughes explained that Burke’s public service runs much deeper than that.
“He can be seen lending a hand wherever needed, whether at a public supper serving food, finding work for the towns’ youths, helping deliver holiday baskets or giving people rides to the store, located several miles away, so they can get groceries,” Smith and Hughes wrote.
In presenting the award, Anne Swift-Kayatta, a former MMA President and council member in the Town of Cape Elizabeth, observed Burke’s military service as well. He served his country as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves for 28 years, “while still working full-time, harvesting his wild blueberries each August and raising four children,” she said. Burke also is retired from the U.S. Army.
“What came through (during the nomination and judging process) in all the letters we received about him was that Burke isn’t just someone who serves on committees and goes to meetings,” said Swift-Kayatta, who was among three municipal officials who made the award decision. “This is a man with a compassionate and humble heart. We read how he ‘keeps in touch with older and shut-in’ people in town, all in a ‘low-key and quiet manner, without a shade of self-promotion.’ ”
In accepting the award, Burke was surrounded by supporters including his family and close associates from the Town of Appleton. Burke received the honor on Oct. 2, at the first day of MMA’s convention, which was held at the Augusta Civic Center. Some 1,100 municipal officials and exhibitors attend the annual event during each day of the two-day event.
Founded in 1936, the MMA is a voluntary, non-partisan, member-service organization to which 486 municipalities in Maine belong. It has a core belief that local government is a fundamental component of a democratic system of government. MMA’s services include advocacy, education and information, professional legal and personnel advisory services and self-funded group insurance programs.