LARGO -- If a family name could ever by a misnomer, such is the case with Pat Burke, who steps down in March as a member of the Largo City Commission.
The name? Doolittle. But like her distant relative, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who pulled that suprise raid on Tokyo in 1942, her life is testament to doing a lot.
It's a case, in part, of how are you going to keep that girl down on the farm after she's seen the bright lights of Manhattan?
Kirkwood, near Binghamton, in the woodsy, country fields of New York, is where she grew up. Yes, it was on a farm and though she says now she loved the farm she didn't waste any time getting out into the world.
The Sixties were the years that turned her into a political junkie. Not just running for office, but being involved in the process. For the fact is, the only elective office she has held is on the Largo commission. But she has been very, very involved.
What really counts now, as one looks back, is Burke's years in Largo. She arrived here in 1974 and took root.
By 1983, she was on the Downtown Economic Advisory Board which later was phased out because it was sunsetted in the law that created it. It became the Downtown Redevelopment Board.
What is significant is that the board played a key role in developing Central Park, the jewel and centerpiece of Largo now, in which and around which a new library is being built and across East Bay a new hotel is going up. The Cultural Center is a focus of attention in the park.
Twenty or so years ago, the site was the fairgrounds. Burke was among those who pushed and worked hard to make Central Park what it is today.
Then she served on the Parks and Recreation Board and was president of Partner ‘n Progress which, at that time, was raising funds for the park.
Burke went on to serve on various advisory boards in the city and was appointed to the City Commission in 1996 to fill a seat vacated by Judy Dean.
There were 22 applicants for the seat. She has been successfully re-elected since.
"Thom Feaster was my mentor," Burke says. Feaster was the mayor who died untimely several years ago of lung cancer.
Involvement is probably the word that describes Burke best. "I always had a burning desire to make things better," she says. "I never ran for office or got involved in anything just for something to do."
Why leave the commission now?
"I think it's time to step back. I am healthy but I think I need some time off," Burke says.
The betting is, among those who know this vigorous woman, that she will not be out of public involvement for very long. She is very attached to Largo and she herself says, "I'll probably be politically involved again."
In Kirkwood, where the snows swirl these days, and some of the wildlife is hibernating, the folks could well be saying, "That Doolittle girl sure has done a lot."
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