W. Z. "Doc" Burke

Portrait of namesake W.Z. "Doc" BurkeA community need to provide students in rural Bexar County with a high school education was the driving force that led "Doc" Burke to help establish what is today the fifth largest school district in Texas.

"Doc" Burke was the momentum behind the effort to join rural Bexar county school districts in 1949 to become Northside Consolidated School District #1. This consolidated school district eventually became Northside Rural High School District #1. In 1955, the name was changed to Northside Independent School District.

W. Z. "Doc" Burke was one of two original rural district trustees who led the consolidation move that ultimately built what is now known as John Marshall High School. He considers the consolidation of the rural school districts his most important contribution to the Northside ISD.

Burke, a veterinarian from Leon Valley, and Clarence Galm (another NISD elementary school namesake) from Helotes worked with trustees from the Locke Hill and Leon Springs districts to successfully pass an election calling for consolidation of the four rural school districts. Other rural school districts which joined the original four include Los Reyes, West San Antonio Heights, Lockhart, Mackey, Clifton, Hoffman and Culebra. Burke was one of seven trustees named to the first Board of the newly formed school district. He served two years.

The year NISD was born, 1949, is also pivotal for another landmark reason. This is the year that the Texas Legislature enacted the Gilmer-Aiken Law which established the foundation school program of finance. This law guaranteed the availability of a defined educational program for each Texas child.

Dr. Burke graduated from Port Arthur High School and Texas A&M University where he earned his veterinary medicine degree. He worked for the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry and then joined the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. He spent part of his military career at Fort Sam Houston teaching at Brooks General Hospital. After his military service, he settled into the rural northwest Bexar County farming communities and set up his veterinary practice. It was here that "Doc" would eventually make his mark on Northside School District. He and his wife, Hazel (Menefee), raised their children and became leaders in their community and schools.

Dr. Burke and his wife of 66 years now reside in New Braunfels. They have three children all of whom graduated from John Marshall High School. They are Betty Ann Canney, William Z. "Bubba" Burke III, and Susan Osborn. They also have seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

"Doc" Burke says that next to his family, the best part of his life was his association with the education pioneers who established what is now Northside Independent School District. "Doc" Burke, the gentle "Texas Education Pioneer," advises students to set goals, study hard, make their parents proud, contribute to their country, and above all, be happy.

Our beloved "Doc" Burke passed away on April 14, 2006. His passion for education will be missed, but will live on with each teacher and student that passes through the halls of W.Z. "Doc" Burke Elementary.