Martin ‘Skip’ Burke (In Memoriam)



Our firm was founded in 2006 by current chairman Jerry W. Blackwell and prominent Minneapolis trial attorney Martin “Skip” Burke. Mr. Burke passed away in January 2016.

Skip lived a full life and made it a great run to the end of his trail. He battled Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade, always remaining positive and upbeat. He never quit.

After graduating from Yale University, Skip attended the University of Chicago Law School, then returned to his teenage home, Minneapolis, to practice law as an associate and partner with Faegre & Benson. Over his illustrious legal career, Skip was recognized as a distinguished trial lawyer and he eventually served as Chair of the General Litigation Department and member of the Management Committee at Faegre. Skip retired shortly after turning 60 and moved with his wife Susan to Telluride, Colorado. After one year, Skip “flunked” retirement and returned to Minneapolis to practice law with Jerry Blackwell as a founding partner of Blackwell Burke P.A. He relished practicing law with Jerry and their colleagues at Blackwell Burke, describing it as the high point of his career.

Skip was an avid athlete and competitor who loved sports including handball, sailing, skiing and especially distance running. Skip ran nearly 90 marathons and several 50 mile and 100 kilometer races. This was a remarkable feat since Skip ran his first marathon at the age of 41. He became deeply involved in the running community, and he championed the merger of the former City of Lakes and St Paul Marathons into a single Twin Cities Marathon which he proudly proclaimed was “the most beautiful urban marathon in America.” Skip served as the color commentator alongside Ralph Jon Fritz on WCCO during the first televised Twin Cities Marathon.

Skip was a committed and dedicated member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He attended AA meetings weekly and was a sponsor and mentor for a large number of people in recovery. Skip was always generous, kind and eager to help others in need. Skip was a foster parent to several children and was particularly helpful to teenagers recovering from addiction.

Skip loved the arts and was passionate about healthy food. He purchased and renovated an historic building at 2558 Lyndale Avenue South and launched a gourmet restaurant known as “Poulet.” Poulet was successful for several years and was well known in the community for serving a free Thanksgiving Dinner to anyone in need.