In addition to being a pioneering broadcaster, Daniel Burke was the father of NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Investor Warren Buffett — who was on the Capital Cities board — once said that having a company run by Daniel Burke and his partner Tom Murphy was “like having Ruth and Gehrig in the same lineup.” Here’s the official announcement of Burke’s passing:
Daniel B. Burke, 82, who served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., from 1990 until his retirement in 1994, and who was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company from 1972, died at his home on Wednesday, October 26th, in Rye, N.Y.
Mr. Burke, whose distinguished media industry leadership spanned broadcasting, cable and publishing, joined Capital Cities in 1961 as General Manager of WTEN-TV in Albany. He was elected a Vice President of the Company in 1962 and, in 1964, was appointed General Manager of WJR-AM/FM in Detroit. Mr. Burke became Executive Vice President and Director of Capital Cities in 1967, and he served as President of the Publishing Division from 1969 to 1972.
During more than three decades at Capital Cities, Mr. Burke earned the respect of generations of media professionals for his business development acumen and his commitment to corporate social responsibility. Though his earlier accomplishments came without much public fanfare, that changed on Jan. 3, 1986 with Capital Cities’ acquisition of the American Broadcasting Companies – thrusting Mr. Burke and his long-time friend and business partner Tom Murphy into the national spotlight. At the time, it was the largest non-oil merger in business history. Ten years later, on Feb. 9, 1996, the Company they had built, Capital Cities/ABC, was sold to The Walt Disney Company.
Following his retirement from Capital Cities/ABC in 1994, Mr. Burke turned his attention to creating a minor league baseball franchise — the Sea Dogs – in Portland, Maine.
Mr. Burke’s civic activities included service as a Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Chairman Emeritus of New York Presbyterian Hospital (now Columbia Presbyterian) in the City of New York.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush appointed Mr. Burke to the Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund, established to manage funds appropriated by Congress to promote the private sector in Hungary. He also was a member of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, the University of Vermont, for a six-year term, with the final year as Board Chairman. In addition, he served on the Boards of American Woman’s Economic Development Corporation, The National Urban League, Cities in Schools, Morgan Stanley Group, Inc., Consolidated Rail Corporation, Rohm and Haas, Darden Restaurants and The Washington Post Company.