Michael loved life and lived it to the fullest. He did more in his short 27 years than most do in a full lifetime. He will be missed terribly by all those whose lives he touched.

Memories of Michael

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From: Marc Smith (2005)

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Burke,

I was so sorry to hear about the tragic accident that took Mike’s life this week. I was also very sorry I did not have the opportunity to attend either the wake or the funeral in Iowa to say goodbye to a great person and a good friend.

I have never met either of you, but I wanted to send you several thoughts and memories I have of Mike. I am a Partner with Accenture and had the privilege of working with Mike several times at two different clients over the past three years.

Most of the time, Mike and I worked on different projects at the same client and did not have much professional interaction. We did enjoy each other’s company informally and socially. The people that worked directly with Mike (both Accenture and client personnel) spoke extremely positively of Mike and the quality of his work. My main interactions with Mike at that time focused on more important topics, such as who would have a better record – the Cubs or the Cardinals; and how much the Hawkeyes would either beat or lose to by the Illini by in either football or basketball.

In late 2003 and early 2004, I did have the opportunity to work directly with Mike. It was very clear that everyone’s perspective of Mike were very accurate. Mike exceeded my expectations in every way possible. He was an extremely bright, very articulate, well-rounded and very dedicated professional. He did what was asked of him without question, he did it extremely well, and he did it with pride. He was eager to learn new skills and was able to gain proficiency in a number of functional areas outside of his immediate areas of expertise. He welcomed new challenges. He gained immediate credibility in each of these areas because he was a quick study and was able to think critically about these new subject areas.

Mike looked like he was sixteen. When Mike would be introduced to a client executive who had not worked with Mike before, you would notice the disbelief in their faces, silently asking “why in the world would you bring this kid to talk to me?” Once Mike had a chance to speak on the subject at hand, the doubt was instantly removed, and Mike immediately gained the respect and trust of these clients, and more times than not, Mike made a new friend. What was even more enjoyable to witness was the face to face meeting of Mike and the clients with whom he only had a telephone relationship – the client would be looking around for someone who looked much “older”, and was surprised when Mike introduced himself. To prepare one client for this type of meeting, I actually sent a picture of Mike to the client so they could absorb the fact that the person doing the high quality work for them was this youthful looking gentleman. As you know, Mike was able to make friends with everyone he met. I have only heard people say very positive things about Mike.

I was disappointed when Mike transferred from Chicago to New York, because I knew our interactions would become limited. We still were able to stay in contact at least once a month using email and AOL Instant Messenger.

Although I did not directly work with Mike when he started doing the offshore work with several clients in Manila, I understood from both Mike and the people he was working with that he absolutely loved that type of work. In fact, I was talking to another Partner who was in Manila several weeks ago at the same time Mike was there, and he indicated that Mike was up at 5:00 am meeting with a client in the hotel lobby. Mike had tremendous drive and dedication.

We consistently rated Mike as being in the top 5-10% of his peer group. With such a talented pool of people at Accenture, if a person achieved this level ranking once or twice in a twenty-year career, it was a great honor. Mike achieved that level consistently, four years in a row. That reinforces what a special and talented individual Mike was.

You both should be very proud of Mike and his accomplishments. You obviously did a tremendous job raising him. I don’t think I will ever meet anyone quite as well rounded and talented as Mike, and I surely will never forget him.

God bless you and your family.

With my deepest sympathy,

Marc Smith

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