Steve Burks worked for the Viatorian Community for more than 40 years, and his imprint lies throughout Saint Viator High School and the Viatorian Province Center. Yet, alumni, parents and friends of the Viatorians might not recognize his name.
Burks passed away Jan. 27 after a battle with cancer. He was 65.
“It’s a huge loss for us,” said Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, Assistant Provincial, “huge.”
Burks was the longtime director of buildings and grounds at Saint Viator, and he added caring for the Province Center for the last 14 years. He began working at the high school in 1981 for then building director, Br. Dale Barth, CSV.
Prior to joining the school’s staff, Burks had served in the Navy, where he gained his engineering experience. When the school merged with Sacred Heart of Mary in 1987 and Br. Barth retired, Burks was promoted.
“He helped us transition to a coed school,” says Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, President of Saint Viator during the merger. “He made the key moves on that, building new locker rooms and bathrooms.”
Fr. Bolser led the high school for 12 years and during that time he worked with Burks on projects that included renovating the cafeteria, chapel and science labs, converting the typing room into a computer lab — complete with the installation of a mainframe computer and wiring — installing a sprinkler system and converting the back property into athletic fields.
“Steve was responsible for the inside and outside, both,” Fr. Bolser adds.
Burks led construction of the high school’s first addition, which resulted in its iconic Boler Center. The major capital campaign included a multipurpose athletic addition, with a new gym, added classrooms, training rooms, and a fitness center and weight room. The Boler Center was dedicated in 2005.
In 2014, Burks then served as foreman for the $14 million Shaping the Future with Faith capital campaign. The two-year construction started with the remodeling of the Scanlan Center, but also included converting the cafeteria into Querbes Hall, a multi-purpose, collegiate-style dining facility and a $2 million renovation of the performing and visual arts facilities.
Over at the Province Center, Burks oversaw the renovation of the community dining room, with its ceiling to floor windows overlooking a patio and gardens, as well as the remodeling of the provincial residence, guest rooms and meeting rooms.
But, he not only cared for the maintenance inside, he lovingly oversaw the care of its expanive grounds, including its more than 100 trees across the property.
Each year, after surveying the damage done to the trees by the winter, Burks chose new ones to replace them. Some of his favorites included autumn oaks and maples, burning bushes, crabapple and Kentucky coffee trees.
“What I look for is color,” Burks said simply.
Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, Provincial, worked closely with Burks at the high school and at the Province Center and he described losing him as a personal loss.
“He was more like a partner than an employee,” Fr. Hall said. “He loved the school, he loved the Province Center, he loved the people.”