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Posted 2023-04-29T15:04:00Z

Obituary of Eliza Grace Burke


Eliza (Liza) Grace Burke arrived right on schedule on July 10, 2001 and wasted no time living life to the fullest. She cherished her siblings, Jack and Edie. As her older sister’s abilities declined from the effects of MPS1, Liza proudly assumed the role of little “big sister” until Edie’s death when Liza was only six. Liza was the youngest of ten children born in her neighborhood in one calendar year and, although she was the smallest, she was the fiercest and the undisputed leader of the pack. She was open to wonder and magic, and was frequently found resting with her head on the family sofa and her feet in the air. She was steadfast in her love for family and friends (offering encouragement or a tiny shoulder to cry on), much like her abundant respect and care for animals (fostering and socializing limitless kittens) as well as the planet (recycle and stop wasting the AC, people!).


Liza lived large, like every day could be her last. She was not only at ease in nature, she was intrepid—whether watching sunsets from a mountain top tent, swimming solo across any body of water, or surfing in Central America. As Liza matured, she accomplished more in 21 years than many people do in a lifetime. She spoke two languages, played guitar, traveled the world, went skydiving, hiked across a glacier, joyfully sang and danced — always without fear of judgement. When she decided to go to the University of Georgia, she did so because others told her they LOVED it, not because of where its education might take her. It was the experience that mattered to Liza. She had an innate way of bringing people together, making everyone feel loved, and sharing her contagious laugh with those she met.


Astronomers have determined that the brightest, hottest, and most active stars have the shortest lifespans. Liza is like one of those brightest stars. In her short time here, she gave off an extraordinary amount of light, energy, and love. Her life serves a reminder to go through life unapologetically, take chances, speak and act boldly, cherish the little things, laugh often, and to stay present.


Following a six-week battle with a previously-undiagnosed brain tumor, Liza transitioned into the next realm peacefully while being cared for by friends and family. Heaven is undoubtedly rejoicing at her arrival. But she will be missed by so many in her hometown of Asheville, NC, and home-away-from-home, Athens, GA. Her survivors look forward to the day that Liza guides them from this lifetime into their next big adventure. They include her mother Laura McKeithen (Bryan Mickler); father Tom Burke; brother Jack Burke; and grandparents Loy McKeithen (Susan), Kitty McKeithen and Dennis Burke; along with countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends across the globe.


The family asks that in lieu of flowers and other gifts, please donate to the Liza and Edie Burke Education Fund at The Foundation for the Carolinas. The fund was set up to honor both sisters and the genuine, dynamic, playful, and fierce way they gave back to the world. Gifts to the Liza and Edie Burke Educational Fund support educational opportunities for young people at the University of Georgia and beyond. 



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Comments (3)

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  • Tasha Locke
    Tasha Locke

    Every time I see a bright star in the sky, I will think of Liza and her light. The world was a better place because she was here. I thought of how very true these words are in regard to Liza living her life to the fullest. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”-Abraham Lincoln. Laura, I pray that your beautiful memories give you strength to face everyday and you feel God’s presence with you. My family is praying for all of you.

    one year ago · Reply
  • Carrie Dietze
    Carrie Dietze

    Laura: Sorry. So incredibly sorry. It is unbelievable to us that Liza is gone and I can only imagine how unbelievable it is for you. This is truly the most beautifully written obituary I have ever read. I want you to know that Liza had such an impact on Sophie. I can remember when Soph came to me and said " I think I found the perfect roommate on Facebook!" Immediately I was like...are you sure? Facebook? It was a match for sure! As they got to know one another, and before they even met in person, I could see Sophie lighting up as she spoke of Liza. She was so ready to fly the coop and get to UGA to her new friend and roomie. I know they laughed A LOT! You will have to get Soph to share with you her list of "25 weird things Liza does." She read it to me the other day and we laughed and cried as she read. Liza will remain steadfast in our memory banks as beautiful, smart, gregarious ...and just a really cool person with a contagious, cool vibe!!! Soph truly loved her and both she and I are so very grateful to have been a part of her life. I have had prayer warriors from all over praying for Liza and your family throughout this journey. As I shared her obituary they continue to keep you, Jack and your family in their prayers for peace and healing. My friend Jane from Texas said to me, " There are some things on this side of Heaven we will never understand ...and this is one of them." So true. We are here for you Laura- always and forever. Sincerely, Carrie Dietze

    one year ago · Reply
    • Laura McKeithen
      Laura McKeithen

      I CANNOT WAIT to read that list! She loved Sophie and often sent me pictures when they would run into each other. And I agree with Jane.

      one year ago · Reply