American rowing champion
Died: January 13, 2008 (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Best Known as: former American rowing champion in the 1930s
Joe Burk was an American rowing champion in the 1930s and a decorated PT boat skipper in World War II. He competed at a time when amateur sports were played for the love of the game and not material prospects. Burk won the Sullivan Trophy from the Amateur Athletic Union as the nation’s leading amateur sportsman in 1939. Burk won the single sculls championships in both the United States and Canada every year from 1937-1940. He was able to maintain a speed of 40 strokes per minute. Burk was expected to win gold at the 1940 Helsinki, Finland Olympic Games, but they were cancelled due to World War II. He was a commander in the Navy and earned the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star. He coached crew at the University of Pennsylvania from 1950-1969.