Melnotte William Rourke, Sr., 69, passed away Friday, April 24th 2009, in John Sealy Hospital surrounded by family and friends.
A sixth generation BOI and lifelong faithful Catholic, Mel was born March 2, 1940, in Galveston, Texas to Walter B. Rourke, Jr. and Margaret Livingston Rourke, He is predeceased by his grandparents Walter B. Rourke, Sr. and Mary Rourke and William Livingston and Sophie Wichlep; parents Walter B. Rourke Jr. and Margaret Livingston Rourke; Aunts Katherine “Kitty” Viets, Mamie Robbe, Edith L. Buest and Mildred Rourke Dusek Demack, and two newborn sons Edward and Stephen Rourke. Mel graduated from St. Mary’s Cathedral Parochial School, Kirwin High School and earned his B.S. Degree at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Mel taught 8th grade at Alamo School and in 1963, moved to Hitchcock to become a member of the Faculty of Hitchcock ISD Junior High School. There he taught many young people and coached baseball, a lifelong love of his. He became very active in the Hitchcock area communities. In 1967, Mel joined the Juvenile Probation Department of Galveston County when he and his wife, Frances, and their two children, Mel Jr. and Kathryn moved back to Galveston. Mel took the small department and built it up to a real force for good in the rehabilitation of young people in Galveston County.
In 1972, he formed a partnership with Allan Hopkins in the company “Confidential Services”, a private enquiry agency, which became his life’s work. It was at this time that Mel began his active service in Galveston politics, following in his father’s footsteps. His father served on the Commissioner form of government while Mel served on the City Councilmember form. After serving on several City boards and commissions, he served on Galveston City Council for several terms always cognizant of the trust placed in him by the voters. Mel was always interested in law enforcement, serving as a Volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy for many years. Along with Jim Olguin, he co-chaired the “Bobbies” during Dickens’ on the Strand for many years.
In 1963, Mel joined the Knights of Columbus, Msgr. Kirwin General Assembly, the oldest assembly in the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston. He became a member of the Third and Fourth Degree. Over the next 50 years, he was an active member in Council #787, a Charter member of Council # 9976 and the La Marque Council # 5236. He held the offices of Grand Knight, Faithful Navigator and Master of the Fourth Degree, First District of Texas. Mel and his father, Walter B. Rourke Jr., were the first and only Father/Son team to have held the office of Master of the Fourth Degree, First District. He was instrumental in bringing interest to fellow Catholic men to join the Knights of Columbus.
Mel is survived by the love of his life of 18 years, and wife Carol S. Rourke, his children; Mel Jr. and Cathy Rourke; Kathryn Rourke Cox and husband James Cox; Andrew Gerard and Donel Rourke, Stephanie Marie Rourke and Juanita and Alfred Martinez. Also by his beloved grandchildren Faith, Grace and Charity Cox of Austin, Trinity Grace and Tristan Samuel Rourke of Dickinson, Kaiya Mackenzie Frances Rourke of League City and Noah Luis Martinez and by Frances Yokum Rourke Powell, the mother of his children and lifelong friend. He is survived by brothers Larry and Margaret Rourke and Michael and Elizabeth Rourke of San Antonio as well as his nephew Randy and Laura Tauch and niece Lauren Rourke and their families. He is also survived by Jean and Oran Broussard, Nita and Rene Wilkes of San Antonio, and the families of his late uncles Joseph Rourke, James Rourke, John Rourke, Robert Rourke and a host of friends and people he’s helped in every one of his much too short lifetime.
Pallbearers will be Andrew Rourke and Mel Rourke Jr., City Councilmember Danny Weber, Alfio Tropea, Joe Cappadona, Fred Guillory, Matt Maciejeski, Arthur Wilcox and Mike Friedline. Honorary pallbearers are Oscar Ekelund, Sal Arcidiacono, James Cox, Bruce Clawson, Charles Wiley, Danny Allen, Donnie Allen, Brian Kusnerik, Alfred Paige, Freddie Poor, Jo Max Taylor, Gene Leonard and Rodney E. Kahla. There will be honor guards from City of Galveston Fire Department and the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from all over Texas.
A vigil service, followed by the Rosary and led by Deacon John Pistone will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at Sacred Heart Church, 1301 Broadway, Galveston, Texas.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 also at Sacred Heart Church.
Those wishing to donate to a memorial in his name may do so to the “Knights of Columbus State Charities”, Box 331, Galveston, Texas, 77552, or to the Texas State Council Knights of Columbus, c/o Texas State Council Knights of Columbus State Office, 6633 Highway 290 East, Suite 204, Austin, Texas 78723-1157.