September 30, 1927 ~ September 21, 2008
Jean Casale Burkus was born on September 30, 1927, the first child of Agostino and Frances Casale in Brooklyn, New York. She attended PS-68, 73 and Grover Cleveland High School where she graduated with honors in Biology. She attended City University of New York (CUNY) at Hunter College where she majored in Biology and graduated in 1948. She completed Fellowships in Sciences at Rutgers University and the University of California (UCLA). She continued her academic work at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and was awarded a Masters Degree in Fine Arts in Biology in 1952. In 1949 she married John Burkus in New York City. From this loving marriage, there are three children - Anne Burkus-Chasson, Kenneth Burkus, Gregory Burkus and seven grandchildren. Rearing this brood of children, she was an active homemaker, avid gardener and a forthcoming teacher. In the early 1960's she returned to teaching on a part-time basis as a substitute teacher. She relished being thrown into different classes with different age groups of students and different lesson plans to be covered. In the 1970's she returned to teaching full-time at the Amity Regional Junior High School in Orange, Connecticut, where she taught Biology. Over the next 25 years she served as Department Chair and mentor for colleagues and student teachers. She was active locally, regionally and nationally with the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Connecticut Teachers Association. She restructured and updated the traditional science curriculum, incorporating controversial scientific issues, the health needs of adolescents and concepts of human sexuality. As gender biases develop early in life, she particularly was concerned about 'the need for women to see the value and importance of science, both as a knowledge base and potential career.' These pioneering efforts and achievements were recognized by the Milken Family Foundation. She received one of the first Milken Educator Awards to be given to a Connecticut educator. In 1992 she retired for the first time from teaching. She returned to the profession of teaching by mentoring and supervising student teachers at Southern Connecticut State Teachers College. In 2006, she retired from teaching for the second time. Her husband, John, a PhD in Chemistry, passed in 1990. She lived independently and never remarried. She lived a full life, enjoying travel, music, gardening, and always teaching - whether it be in the classroom or with her grandchildren. She traveled extensively throughout Europe, going as far as Siberia. She participated both at home and abroad in numerous Elderhostels, studying music, architecture, fine arts and healthcare issues. After having lived in Woodbridge for many years, Jean recently moved to Georgia to be near her son. On September 21, 2008, she passed on peacefully after a short battle with leukemia. She is survived by her loving and supporting sister, Angela Casale Sinacore (John) of Palm Bay, FL; her daughter Anne Burkus-Chasson, PhD, Associate Professor at University of Illinois (Timothy) of Champagn, IL; her son J. Kenneth Burkus, MD (Michelle) Columbus, GA and their children, John, Michael and Andrew; her son Gregory Burkus, MBA (Sheila) of Weston, MA and their children, Nicholas, Alexa, Annie and Kylie. She is also survived by several loving nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held at BEECHER & BENENTT, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden, on Saturday, September 27th at 3:00 p.m. Burial will take place on Monday, September 29th at 9:00 a.m. at East Side Cemetery in Woodbridge. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Jean's memory may be made to the Hunter College Scholarship and Welfare Fund (www.hunter.cuny.edu, Hunter College Scholarship and Welfare Fund, 695 Park Avenue, Room 1314HE, New York, New York, 10065).