Bill Burke Passes Away

January 9th, 2019 by Emmariah Holcomb

Window film industry legend Bill Burke passed away yesterday. Burke was a pioneer in the development and professionalism of the industry.

“My dad was like a knight in shining armor, he had an answer for everything about the industry. He did everything for the love of window film and losing him truly hurts,” said son, Pat Burke.

Burke began his career by starting his own film company before it was recognized as a worthwhile industry to join, and later becoming a member and then executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA) where he worked to champion the use of window film. In recognition of his many accomplishments, Burke was inducted into the Window Film Magazine Hall of Fame. To see his Hall of Fame presentation, click here.

Several members of the industry reflected on how Burke has impacted them and wanted to share their thoughts.

“Bill had a wealth of knowledge about the beginnings and growth of the window film industry — he participated in most of it. He’ll be missed,” said Joe Cobbe, MAXPRO president and CEO.

“I met Bill Burke back in the late 1980’s when first joining the window film industry. Bill had a ‘larger than life’ personality that was infectious and was truly a pioneer in our industry with “out of the box” ideas and thinking. He truly understood our industry on a fundamental level and had a passion for effecting positive change. Bill was ‘one of a kind” and will be truly missed,’ said Jeffrey Plummer, senior vice president for Madico, Inc.

“If you enjoy offering lifetime automotive warranties to your customers you owe Bill Burke your thanks, he invented the concept. The IWFA wouldn’t exist without Bill’s efforts that came at a time when window film competitors wouldn’t even talk to each other,” said Scott Davidson, president of Johnson Window Films.

“I met Bill Burke back in 1982 the year I opened my business, and coincidentally, the same year that the Hawaii legislature announced they would be banning auto tinting in Hawaii. I scrambled and tried calling LLumar for help and they pointed me to the newly formed IWFA for legislative assistance. I called the IWFA and met Bill Burke over the phone. Bill was incredibly understanding and so helpful to me and the quickly formed “Coalition for Safe Glass Tinting” here in Hawaii,” said Tommy Silva, CEO of T&T Tinting Specialists, Inc.

“He provided us with endless information on other States laws, expert witnesses that could come to the hearings and speak on behalf of the IWFA and lots more. After 12 months of hard research, in-person lobbying work, speaking at numerous hearings, we successfully got our bills through the House and Senate, as well as having our Governor sign our bill into law in July of 1983, with only minutes to spare as it would’ve died on his desk without our constant pressure. Over the past 37 years, at IWFA meetings and other industry functions, Bill had become not only a trusted advisor, but a great friend. His passion for our industry is only surpassed by his kindness, smile and raspy laugh. You will be missed Bill Burke. Much aloha out to the Burke ohana in this time of sadness,” Silva added.

“I knew Bill as a helpful voice on the phone, who was willing to give you hours of time and expertise, long before I ever met him,” said Window Film magazine publisher Deb Levy. “I called him up one day, introduced myself and said we had been thinking about starting a magazine about Window Film. Bill instantly provided advice and was a great encouragement,” Levy added. “He worked to professionalize the industry and have it coalesce around shared values and goals as it grew.”

He is survived by his wife Audrey Ann, sons, Patrick and Bill (his wife Robin), grandsons Zack, Cody, and Jake (his wife Angie), granddaughter Nicole, and his great grandson Billy.

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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  1. Bill was instrumental in my career……

    In 1992 we were both interviewing for a position with Southwall Technologies….to bring to NA/US market what was (at the time) the revolutionary film : V-Kool (We launched it as Solis, BTW)………

    We were both asked, in the course of the interview process our opinion of the others’ capabilities and suitability for the position. I was pretty sure I had no chance against this master “marketer”….and I don’t know exactly what Bill told them but they hired me with his recommendation…..thx to my pal …… Rest Easy , Godfather

  2. Beatifully wrote, thank you.
    My father Bill 2as survived by his wife Audrey Ann, my oldest brother Bill, his wife robin, their son jake & now married to angie and have a little Billy Burke now. My self patrick, sons zack, & cody.

  3. It is so satisfying to read all the wonderful comments about what Bill has accomplished over the years. I was his secretary when he was the Executive Director of the IWFA but had been working with him from the Gila River/Courtaulds days in Chandler. He has been such an important part of the window film industry and I agree, he will be missed and never replaced. I am so proud to have been part of his involvement in the industry and super proud to have been included in the Burke family life. Thank you Bill, Audrey, Pat, Bill and all the Burke family. Love from Australia.

  4. Around 1980 or so the window film industry was trying to find its fit in the world and it participated in a window treatment convention in Las Vegas. I went out to see and learn and Wendell Cobleigh invited me to a group dinner of many of the major players in film at the time. Of course Bill Burke was there, ringleader and life of the party. I’m pretty sure he paid my check. A couple years later I saw an ad recruiting dealers in Nashville, so, after a full day’s work, I went to the motel meeting room to check out who was trying to set up competition in my market. There was Bill and Calvin Hill holding forth. After they finished I invited them to dinner and we were all friends ever after. We cussed and discussed the biz many times over the years and Bill was always generous with information and encouragement.

  5. Sorry to hear the said news. He is a great loss and the knowledge he acquired over the decades will be a loss for the industry.
    Pioneers have so much to offer and their history is a story we all need to remember and hold onto. What he has most probably forgotten we all still have to learn.May Bill Burke soul rest in peace…………..Regards Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

  6. Thank you for writing this. It means a lot. Just one note this is missing Bill’s grand daughter Nicole

  7. Thank you for writing this. It is very nice and means a lot. Just one note: Bill is also survived by his grand daughter Nicole Burke.

  8. Hafa adai (Hello) Patrick,

    Our most sincere condolences to you and your entire family. Your dad has been a very real inspiration to thousands of people all over the world and as far away as Guam.

    Please know we will forever be grateful for his willingness to share truths and honesty in our industry. He truly is a man of great character, charisma and integrity. He will surely be missed.

    Best wishes,

    Joe Roberto
    Your Guam Familia

  9. So sad to hear of Bill’s passing. I so much remember my first visit to Gila River in 1983 ,and my training with Bill on how to install film, the conferences in Las Vegas and meeting up with the boys ( Bill, Wendell and the gang), andmost especially hosting Bill’s parents on there visits to London and showing them all the interesting places that tourists never get to see : the Gold vaults at the Bank of England, and visiting outside Kensington Palace and them seeing the young princes Harry and William at the window with there mum Princess Diana. Something that would be impossible nowadays with all the security that we have to live with. Bill was so thrilled by the stories that they had to tell, and he was such a gentleman and pal. Best wishes and condolences to all the Family . David

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