By Jack Healey
It was a wonderful pre-game ceremony before the Rutland Post 31 American Legion baseball home opener last Saturday at St. Peter’s field as Rutland hosted White River Post 84. There was a moment of silence for both former MSJ basketball star Lenny Burke and former Post 31 coach Bill Flory.
Lenny Burke suffered a traumatic brain injury after hitting his head on the floor after being fouled in a game against Mt. Anthony in January of 1979. He was in a comma for 50 days. His injury led to the founding of the Lenny Burke Farm in Wallingford, a facility for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Lenny died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 56. During a two day radiothon for Lenny in 1979 over $100,000 was raised. It showed what Rutland is all about. The outpouring of love, affection and support for the Burke family was overwhelming. It is the most amazing small town fundraising effort I have ever seen.
There will be a celebration of Lenny Burke’s life at the Castleton University Pavilion on Saturday June 30th. The family will receive guests at 4PM with a Memorial Service at 5PM with a reception to follow.
Bill Flory who died in April at the age of 90 was also honored. A great coach, teacher, mentor, umpire and official, but most of all Bill was an even better human being. The Rutland Post 31 team is wearing a commemorative patch with the #21 in Bill’s memory this year.
Two Rutland treasures Lenny Burke and Bill Flory.
God Bless Them!