The timing was something out of a movie script.
A family finds a son who has been missing for 30 years – amazing. But to find him a month before his father 100th birthday – astounding.
A.J. Burke disappeared one night 30 years ago after a family disagreement. No one in the Burke family had heard from him since. Some had looked but they all assumed he was still in Toronto.
A.J.s father, Albert and brother, Richard had made plans for one last search.
“Dad and I talked about it this spring,” says Richard. “We decided just as soon as we had this birthday party over with, we were going to go look for him.”
Albert’s 100th birthday party was all set to go July 9.
Then on Tuesday June 7, 2011, David Williams a cousin of the Burkes from Georgetown, Ontario was on a coffee break at work. One of his co-workers threw him a paper he had just finished reading and Williams turned aimlessly through the pages.
“I flipped by page seven and then for some reason, I don’t know why, I flipped back,” says Williams. “Then I just flipped out. ‘That’s my cousin!’”
A reporter from Toronto, Kenneth Kidd, had been interviewing panhandlers in Vancouver. He was asking them about their reaction to the big influx of hockey fans on the streets of Vancouver for the Stanley Cup. He interviewed A.J. and took his picture.
Williams called his mother right away and his mother called Cindy Burke, A.J.’s sister and A.J.s’s father Albert.
Cindy’s ex-husband, Ian James, in Vancouver for business, went downtown and found A.J.
On June 27. A.J. landed in Nova Scotia and was reunited with his family. He is living with his brother in Port Maitland.
A.J. danced all night at his father’s 100th birthday and when asked if he was glad to be home, he answered:
“All the way. All the way.”
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