Burke Ryder Obituary, Death -Kimball Union Academy has lost a beloved student and member of the community. Burke Ryder ’23 passed away peacefully from cancer on November 10, 2022, at the age of 18. Burke, a Colorado native, chose Ryder Dorm, a farmhouse just up the road from KUA, for his final days.
Burke joined our community in the fall of 2020, fresh off a surgery to amputate his right leg, and his spirit was buoyant and his smile constant. He assured us that everything was fine without ever mentioning his problems. Burke’s knowledge of a darker truth that he chose not to share with his friends or even his teachers during his time on The Hilltop was more impressive than his resilience in the face of that life-changing experience.
Burke’s daily report sounded more like it came from a chairlift on his beloved Breckenridge Mountain than from a hospital bed at Children’s Hospital in Denver, where he was speaking with one of his teachers during a treatment trip. He refused to discuss his health or prognosis, preferring to go about his daily life as one of the kids.
Burke shared his previous joys in mountain biking and ski racing with the community, and he proudly shared the Toyota commercial that showcased his indomitable spirit and new found skill on the sit-ski. He quickly rose to the top of KUA’s theater tech crew and STEM activities. Every soul on campus reached back as Burke wrapped his arms around everything and everyone he met at KUA.
We tried to imitate his grace, self-assurance in wonder and appreciation, and love of people, adventure, knowledge, and living life. He encouraged us all to be more optimistic, self-sufficient, and grateful for the opportunity to be where we were and with the people we were with. Burke has motivated all of us who have crossed paths with KUA in recent years to be better people at some point. Burke adored us, and we adored him back.
Burke’s incredible family, Lee, Kristin, and Teo, who supported his great KUA adventure long before we did, were the central cast of his journey long before we were. Burke’s death, which came far too soon, has cast a pall over The Hilltop. Burke specialized in finding the silver lining in every cloud, and we will be eternally grateful for his presence in our lives.