Kathy Burke Novak


Kathy Burke Novak


Kathy Novak

Kathy Burke Novak passed away at home on January 14, 2020, surrounded by her loving husband and family members after an extended illness.

Born on November 16, 1958, the third daughter and middle child of Jack and Nancy Burke, Kathy embodied a true zest for life and found love and joy in all that each day offered. Butte was her childhood stomping ground, where she made lifelong friends, including “Foles,” who noted, “Kathy always had your back if you got in a fight — even a fight with the boys!” Growing up, Kathy grabbed hold of any activity that sounded fun. She participated in softball, Butte High Purple B’s, and just about everything that could potentially lead to an accident, of which she had many (as evidenced by her right hand stubbed finger).

Kath broke the staunch UM Grizzly mold when she headed to Montana State to play college tennis. As the lone Burke Family Bobcat, she was especially proud of the most recent four Cat Griz football games!

Upon graduation, Kathy moved to Billings, where she continued to make friends and make a difference in the world. She worked for Flomark/High Tech Filters for 38 years, and one of her most notable jobs was producing their creative and hysterical company Christmas cards.

It is family lore that several “fellas” proposed to Kath in her younger days, but she held out until she met her true pal and partner in John Novak. Together, they shared over 23 years of marital bliss, as they’d both readily admit, “Most of the time….” While that doesn’t seem long enough, Kathy and John truly and fully loved each other more every day. They enjoyed listening and dancing to jazz music, reading, skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking to back country lakes. Their love for one another was even more evident recently as John cared for Kathy in her final days. They have a beautiful card hanging above their bed which states, “Two people who belong together make a world.”

Kathy loved to travel — from Big Sky to Africa — she relished it all, and especially enjoyed catching up with her parents, family and friends in Palm Springs, where she and John spent so many happy days. She was the self-designated family photographer and “just one more pic” led to many family eye rolls and a wealth of invaluable photo memories. Kath notoriously loved her food hot, and always soundly placed herself in the very front of every party’s buffet line, a trait for which she was endlessly teased.

To say that “Aunt Dassie” did not have children totally misses the point. She and John were pillars of support for their many nieces and nephews, attending weddings and graduations, baptisms and sporting events, and sending handwritten birthday cards filled with dollars to correspond with ages. As the kids unanimously agreed, “Dass was not really a second mom, she was more than that. A best Aunt. A best Friend.” And, “We only have happy memories of Kath and John. Not one time have we ever felt less than pure love for and from them both.”

Kathy adored spending time with John’s daughter Ricci and granddaughter Molly (Two Bath a Day Molly Rae), who affectionately dubbed Kath “Nana.” Kathy and John also partnered in the Billings Big Brother program and enjoyed being a part of James Quincy’s life and his maturing into a wonderful young man.

Kathy was preceded in death by her mom Nancy and her in-laws, Charlee Novak and Bill Novak.

She is survived by her husband, John Novak; father Jack Burke; siblings and their spouses, Cheryl and Don Harris, Mary and Rick Orizotti, John and Stella Burke, Lisa and Tony Orizotti; sister–in-law Sharon Novak; stepdaughter Ricci and her husband Jason Beck; granddaughter Molly; plus numerous adoring nieces, nephews and friends.

A Mass celebrating Kathy’s life will be held at Saint Patrick’s Church in Butte on Saturday, January 25, at 11 a.m. A second celebration will be held at Tiny’s Tavern in Billings at a time to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to Eagle Mount or a charity of your choice.


I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~ Maya Angelou

Leave a Memory or Condolence

0 thoughts on “Kathy Burke Novak”

  1. Kathy and I umpired softball together one year. Anything involving softball was fun, but Kathy made the other parts of that job (cleaning toilets!) fun too. Rest well Kathy. My condolences to her family.

  2. Jeannie Robinson

    Kathy was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known. She was a co-worker and a friend. Her zest for and love of life were beyond compare. I’m so sorry for her family.

  3. While enjoying decades of those Flowmark Christmas Cards was good. rare opportunities to work with and get to know her were so much better. Blessings to all who will cherish her memory.

  4. A very long time ago i knew Kat when she lived in Bozeman at the home of our campus pastors, Dick and Joy Schroeder. Today i learned that she had “slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings. Sunward she’s climbed and joined the tumbling mirth, of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things.”. Kat never was one to walk with her feet on the ground. She was always just a little bit closer to the sky, closer to Him. Her warm acceptance of others and her gentleness drew a lot of folks to her, and showed them just what a loving Savior looked like. You could see Him in her smile, her eyes, her every word. She leaves us to grab the brass ring- the prize for a life well-lived in Him. Godspeed Kathy Burke. Fly home on angels’ wings. Don’t look back. We’ll be along presently. Much Love to You, and to Your Family, Natalie McCormick

  5. Kathy was one of a kind beautiful friend!! I will cherish our memories at our Halloween parties and on the slopes of Big Sky! Love you Kathy and John!!❤️

  6. I met Kathy at MSU when we both lived in the dorm on the same floor, the first co ed floor at MSU. She had 2 other friends, Annie and Sherry, and It was the best and most fun year hanging around those 3. I remember Skinny, Annie and Slugger, they sure knew how to have fun.

  7. I met Kathy at MSU. We lived on the same floor in the dorms, the first co ed floor at MSU. (we were such rebels). She had 2 other friends, Annie and Sherry, and I have such wonderful memories of hanging out with those 3.

  8. My deepest condolences to Kathy’s family. I didn’t know Kathy real well but her parents were good friends of mine, Tom and Joan Hughes. We got yearly Christmas cards from their family it was so nice to finally meet Kathy. I know Kathy was a good person and I’m sorry for the family’s loss. May she Rest In Peace.

    Deb Hughes Crennen

  9. Merrill RiChey Meredith

    I came to know Kathy when I worked as a Banker at the downtown Wells Fargo (fka Norwest). She had a wonderful sense of humour! And we had Butte people we both knew. We always had time for a quick visit while taking care of biz for FloMark. Extending deepest sympathies to her husband and family.

  10. My friend Glenn just gave me the news yesterday and I miss Kathy soooo much, i was shocked to hear the news and it makes me tear up. I was in love with Kathy for many years and had the pleasure to spend and share time with her.I did not want my life to go on without her but she knew me better and as hard as it was I did move on and so did she and I will be forever grateful for the time we had! She was and is special one, oh that laugh, that smile, that way she walked and she will always be in my memories and thoughts. I pray for her and know she was blessed so she will be in good hands and in a good place. I Trust.

    I live in the Columbia River Gorge, Washougal, WA, married to my beloved for coming up on 30 years, I am so lucky. I might be interested in the Billings celebration. Keep me posted.

  11. I am so sorry to learn of Kathys passing, my sincere condolences to all her family and friends, my thoughts and prayers are with you.She will be greatly missed. I had the pleasure of knowing Kathy many years, actually a lifetime ago when she was engaged to my brother and traveled to Bullhead City, Arizona several times to visit and was actually a bridesmaid at my wedding 40 years ago last December 29. We had many good times, I will never forget her happy and generous spirit, and how after spending a few minutes with her I would start talking with that little accent of hers, I always loved it! Rest in peace beautiful Kathy.

    Michelle Petrie Diaz – Las Cruces, NM

  12. Kathy to me was one of the finest people on earth. I met her through her husband John, as he and I worked together many years ago. I was new to Montana and she and John immediately treated me with kindness, love and friendship. I remember playing tennis with them, laughing, attending church services together and one of my favorite memories with was a ski trip we all took together to Big Sky resort. I left Billings after only a few years (foolishly probably), chasing “grander” job opportunities, but Kathy and John made a lifelong impression on me – the kind that few people ever do. In every memory I have of Kathy, she was always happy and smiling and treating others with such a true and gentle kindness. I consider myself fortunate to have known her and to have had the great privilege of calling her a friend. Thank you Kathy for enriching my life and for showing me such a wonderful example of how happy souls should walk this earth. My heart goes out to John and all their family and friends – She was truly one of the good ones (but of course you all know that already). With heartfelt sorrow and my deepest condolences, Doug “A F R I C A” Williams

  13. John and family, Kathy was a good, great, wonderful, every good word was Kathy! I’m going to miss her so so much! You are all in my prayers today and always! Love ya John! Always Jackie Vermillion

  14. John, We are so saddened to hear of Kathy’s passing. Miss seeing you both at the Shrine Band dances. Condolences to you and your family. Claire and Ken Oravsky

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *