tor of the Honda Classic, who knew Mr. Burke for nearly 30 years.
Aside from his 27-year career at The Breakers, Mr. Burke served as an ambassador for the Honda Classic, a trusted adviser for Discover the Palm Beaches’ board of directors, the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, and president of the Florida Restaurant Lodging Association.
He was a giant in the South Florida tourism industry, his friends said.
“He was certainly highly respected,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and chief executive officer of Discover the Palm Beaches. “He’s going to be tremendously missed in the industry.”
Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., Mr. Burke graduated from Florida International University with a degree in hospitality management before taking his first job at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Two years later he joined Hyatt, where he oversaw marketing for hotels across the country.
In 1991, he joined The Breakers, where he helped steer the hotel into the 21st century, hiring some of the country’s top talent for positions on his sales and marketing team.
“(He) was one of my closest confidants,” Paul Leone, president of The Breakers, said in an email.
“He was a superstar and an intense competitor who never once missed a sales goal or marketing budget in all those years.”
Mr. Burke also was competitive on the golf course.
“Burkie was always full of fun. He was an unforgettable kind of character,” said broadcaster Bryant Gumbel, who first met Mr. Burke while golfing in Hawaii more than 30 years ago. “He grabbed life and he enjoyed it.”
Gumbel also said Mr. Burke was a dedicated family man, who had just recently taken a cruise with his wife, Amy, to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
“His two boys are a shining example of how good a job he and Amy did,” Gumbel said.
Among his co-workers, he was a respected leader who gave wise counsel.
“He was larger than life,” said Mark Haisfield, Mr. Burke’s friend of 30 years. “A guy that would always do anything for you.”
At the monthly Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting Thursday at The Breakers, the Rev. David Carr, president of Cardinal Newman High School, said he had just seen Mr. Burke at a Cardinal Newman football game last week.
“He is in our hearts,” Carr told the room of hundreds. “He is in our prayers.”
In a statement, The Breakers said Mr. Burke was “beloved by all who knew him.”
“Dave’s contribution to The Breakers and the industry was immeasurable — we will all miss him,” the statement read.
Mr. Burke, who lived in West Palm Beach, is survived by his wife and two sons, Matt and Ryan.