Michael Joseph Bourke OAM (SPC 1950-54)

February 22, 2022

Michael Bourke OAM.


We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Old Collegian and OCA Legend Dr Michael Joseph Bourke OAM (SPC 1950-54), who passed away on January 6, 2022, aged 85 years.

Michael’s funeral mass was held in his hometown of Leongatha on January 17 and was co-celebrated by five priests, including Old Collegian Fr Kevin Arundell (SPC 2952-54).

Michael Bourke was a class leader in his matriculation year in 1954.

Affectionately known as “The Bourkes of Pakenham”, Michael and his three brothers, Gavan (SPC 1952-54) (dec), Hugh (SPC 1949-51) (dec) and John (SPC 1945-49) (dec) were inducted as Legends of SPC by the Old Collegians’ Association in 2010.

Michael and his five brothers all attended SPC during the mid-1940s to mid-1950s. The boys were boarders from Pakenham. Michael’s brothers also included David (SPC 1944-52) (dec) and Brien (SPC 1947-49) (dec).

Michael was the devoted husband and soulmate of Therese for 59 years, which was described a “true-life partnership”. He was the adored father of Gabrielle, Justine, David (SPC 1981-84), Peter (SPC 1983-87) and Sarah and a loved grandpa to 11.

In tributes marking Michael’s passing, his family described Michael as “a gentle compassionate family man with a strong faith and love of his community. His passions were his family, horse racing and sharing a good wine with those he loved”.

In another tribute, a former classmate described Michael as a “fellow 1950s genial boarder and teammate (of) SPC Ballarat. Later loving husband, father and much respected country doctor, (a) friend to many far and wide”.

Michael was the fifth son of Mrs M.J. Bourke of Racecourse Park, Pakenham East, and the late Mr M.J, Bourke, to come to St Pat’s from Pakenham East in 1950.

He was extremely active in all aspects of school life and his interest in medicine was high on his priorities when he finished his schooling at SPC.

Michael Bourke was a member of the SPC First XVIII in 1954, alongside his brother Gavan.

He was assistant prefect and Dux of the College in 1954, as well as winner of the Physics and Chemistry scholastic prizes during that same year. He matriculated in 1953 with a Junior Government Scholarship and won a Commonwealth Scholarship, which he deferred. He was Head Councillor of Our Lady’s Sodality, president of Holy Name Society, executive member of the Senior Literary and Debating Society and member of the Altar Society and St Vincent de Paul Society.

Michael Bourke was a member of the premiership-winning First XI Cricket team in 1954.

Michael also represented SPC in cricket and football for three years and was captain of the Cricket First XI, winning the 1954 premiership, as well as vice-captain of the First XVIII Football team, where he played alongside his brother Gavan.

While Michael and Gavan together tasted success, winning the 1953 Ballarat Public Schools Champions premiership title, they endured SPC’s first crushing defeat in Ballarat Public Schools’ football in 50 years in 1954.

Michael Bourke was part of SPC’s premiership dominating success in the First XVIII Football in 1953, with the team winning the BPS championship title once again.

Following Michael’s academic success at school, his dreams of pursuing a career in medicine were soon realised and he devoted his life to this work.

Michael was awarded an OAM in 2019 for his extensive services to medicine in the Leongatha area, where he called home.

He was the original founding member of Leongatha Healthcare (previously known as Leongatha Medical Group).

His devotion to medicine and community involvement also included General Practitioner, Gippsland region, 1964-2016; Co-Founder of Leongatha Medical Group, 1966; Partner, 1966-2002, and Locum, 2002-2016; former Regional Geriatrician at South Gippsland Aged Care Service; Former Medical Officer of Community Health in the Shire of Woorayl; Life Governor at Leongatha Hospital; Board Member at Woorayl Lodge Aged Care for 30 years and Life Governor; dedication to Stony Creek Racing Club as President between 1994-1996, Committee Member, 1960-2010, Former Medical Officer and Life Member, 2003.

A wonderful tribute of his life and work, which was published in the St Vincent’s newsletter can be read here

Michael kindly shared his life story and memories of his time as a student at SPC back in 2018, which can be read here, here and here

Michael Bourke, pictured in his matriculation class photograph in 1954.


Michael Bourke was an executive of the Holy Name Society, as published in the 1954 College Annual