In Memory

Burke Denman

Burke Denman Obituary

BURKE GRAFTON DENMAN Burke Grafton Denman, 65, loving father, brother, uncle, and long time Santa Fe resident, died on March 9, 2016 at home in the warm embrace of his immediate family, following a creative and valiant two and one-half year journey with brain cancer. He was generous, kind, and loving. Burke was born on January 21, 1951 in Woods Hole, MA. to Lucille Grafton Denman and Nathaniel Aaron Denman as one of seven children. He spent his childhood discovering the joy of the outdoors on Cape Cod with his friends and siblings. As the 1960s brought social change, Burke charted his own path as a free thinker. Inspired by many great peace activists and spiritual leaders, he became committed to peace and non-violent protest. Politically progressive, he was involved in the social change and anti-Vietnam war movements during high school in Wooster, Ohio (Class of 1969), and was granted conscientious objector status in 1970. These experiences catalyzed a life long commitment to peace and love. Attracted by the stark beauty, vast open land, and skyscapes of the Southwest, Burke moved to southern Colorado to live communally with friends in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains. In 1972, Burke moved to Santa Fe and began his building career by restoring a dilapidated adobe home in the foothills of Santa Fe. During the 1970s, Burke became heavily involved with New Mexico Search and Rescue and served as Medical Examiner for Santa Fe County. In 1985, Burke married Sally Butler and together they started Denman and Associates, a custom residential construction company. With their children, Marcus and Lyra Butler-Denman, the family spent considerable time river rafting, camping, hiking, and traveling nationally and internationally. They shared a commitment to family, adventure, wilderness, creativity, mindfulness, fun, and joy. Their deep commitment to their children and to family continued unabated after their divorce. As Denman and Associates grew, Burke and Sally brought in two partners, Bradley Gummersall and Chuck Apple, building a successful, green-focused company. Denman & Associates was awarded the prestigious national Renew America Award for Environmental Sustainability in 1998 and The Green Zia Environmental Excellence Achievement Award in 1999. Burke and Sally also started Santa Fe Stone and Ironstone Gardens, transforming a concrete factory into a lively hub for artists and businesses. Burke's creative vision and legacy in Santa Fe can be seen in the beautiful gardens and architecture at Ironstone Gardens on the corner of San Mateo and the railroad. Burke's vision and work and that of Denman & Associates were profiled by the U.S. EPA, Bioneers, and in various magazines, newspapers, and other media. Serving as President of the Santa Fe Sustainable Builder's Association and ZERI, a local green research non-profit, Burke provided leadership throughout his career in advocating for and helping to craft green building policies and practices in Santa Fe. Burke also gained expertise and a reputation as a modern straw bale construction craftsman. Burke nurtured his own spiritual practice and believed deeply in the human capacity for love and reconciliation. As a child, he was a member of the Congregational and, later, the Westminster Presbyterian churches. As an adult, he participated in Buddhist and Hindu meditation, Native American sweat lodges, and other indigenous sacred rituals. Burke was deeply committed to his friends and the community at large during his 45 years in Santa Fe. He loved spending time outdoors, hiking in the Sangre de Cristos, and playing bocce ball whenever possible. He traveled often, touring the crop circles he loved in England, climbing Machu Picchu in South America with his children, receiving treatment by John of God in Brazil, and experiencing other beautiful, spiritually charged outdoor places. Burke traveled to war-torn Liberia in 2011 with the Alliance for the Earth's Earth Treasure Vase program to collaborate with community members, women leaders, and former guerilla fighters in building ceremonial peace huts. Burke applied the fruits of his personal healing work to supporting efforts that seek to prevent family and domestic abuse. Burke enjoyed a long time relationship with the Mankind Project. He was a member of a men's personal growth group, which met weekly for over two decades. This group acted as one of his strongest sources of support throughout his life, illness, and death. The men involved were some of the most important people in his life. In addition to immensely loving and enjoying his immediate family, Burke fostered a cherished closeness with members of his extended family. His generous spirit and kind heart spread throughout the many reunions and family celebrations. Music was always a big part of such festivities and Burke's enjoyment ranged from The Grateful Dead to cellist Adam Hurst. Burke loved poetry and often had poetry readings in his home. During his transformative last few years, Burke read, shared, and wrote poetry that helped him to touch, express, and come to peace with the profound change and sacred journey that he and so many others with cancer face. Burke's surviving family includes his two children, Lyra Butler-Denman and partner Andy Pfandler of Portland, OR; Marcus Butler-Denman of Santa Fe, NM; brothers Mark Denman, England; Scott Denman and wife Wendy Watkins, ME; and sisters Heather Denman, MA; Sally Denman and partner John Dickinson, CA; Laura Denman and husband Victor Iniquez, WA; and Victoria Denman and partner Lynn Ross, CA; in addition to seven nieces and nephews living all over the world. A public memorial service will be held at 4:00 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at the Rivera Family Funerals' Kiva of Light on Rodeo Road. In lieu of flowers, friends and well-wishers are encouraged to send a contribution to Esperanza Battered Families Shelter or Impact Personal Safety. Burke would have appreciated your gift.