Burklund’s $1 million gift names new Bradley athletics museum
When Dale and Shirley Burklund’s grandchildren celebrated their sixth birthdays, Grandpa took them on a special fishing trip up North. When their eight grandchildren graduated from high school, they offered to pay for their college educations. In fact, Dale proudly notes that grandson COREY BURKLUND ’13 is currently studying business at Bradley, and grandchildren JENNIFER PERINO ’97 and FRANK PERINO II ’98 followed their parents, JOYCE BURKLUND PERINO ’71 and FRANK PERINO ’66, to the Hilltop.
A $1 million gift from Burklund and his late wife continues their commitment to the Bradley family. The gift has boosted the Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance to the highest level in Bradley fundraising history: $131 million toward a $150 million campaign goal.
“I’m proud to support Bradley and its legendary athletic tradition.”
In appreciation of Dale and Shirley’s benevolence, the Bradley athletics museum in the new Athletic Performance Center will be named in honor of the Burklund family. The Burklund Family Heritage Hall will be dedicated to the history of Bradley athletics, recognizing the accomplishments of Bradley teams and individuals with large displays, championship trophies, and memorabilia. Visitors will learn about A.J. Robertson, student-athletes who have gone on to play at the highest level of professional sports and in the Olympics, Bradley’s All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, and much more. It will also house an exhibit dedicated to the Robertson Memorial Field House. The Hall will serve as the new home of the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame, with display space featuring photos, videos, and interactive kiosks with biographical information on the approximately 600 Hall of Fame members who have contributed to the tradition of Bradley athletics.
It’s the perfect honor for a couple who has actively supported the Braves Scholarship Society for nearly a decade by sponsoring several men’s basketball players. They’ve been devoted Bradley basketball fans for 70 years and also funded the men’s basketball locker room in the Robertson Memorial Field House. Through gifts both large and small, the Bradley community has benefited from their longtime generosity.
“Dale and Shirley have been two of our longest season ticket holders, supporting the Braves in the ’40s at the Armory, then on to the Field House, and now at the Civic Center,” said President Joanne Glasser. “Their many contributions have shown their commitment to the University. I want to thank the Burklund family for moving the Renaissance Campaign forward and for encouraging others to support the University.”
In 2009, the Burklunds were named Bradley University honorary alumni, an honor given to individuals whose contributions to Bradley are outstanding, meritorious, and distinctive. They were the 37th and 38th honorary alumni named since the program’s inception in 1997.
As community philanthropists, Dale and Shirley touched many lives and improved the Peoria area. In 2005, the couple was honored as Outstanding Philanthropists by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Central Illinois chapter. Their generous spirit encompasses too much to detail, including everything from Shirley’s 40 years of volunteering at Proctor Hospital to their unparalleled support of WTVP 47, to an Easter Seals motor therapy room that bears their name.
Dale reminisced about his late wife of 64 years, their lifelong Peoria roots, and their desire to give back to the community. “Shirley sat behind me in second grade at Glen Oak, and we both graduated from Woodruff High School. Even though I attended Purdue and Shirley went to Brown College of Business, we have supported Bradley. Up until Shirley grew ill, she loved to go to the Bradley games. We’d wear our Bradley shirts, and Shirley would wear the Bradley pin I gave her years ago. Shirley is a very important part of our gift.”
Dale Burklund is chairman and CEO of Burklund Distributors Inc. and one of the founders and chairman of Par-A-Dice Gaming Corp.
“I’m proud to support Bradley and its legendary athletic tradition,” Burklund said. “It is an honor to be associated with an institution that does such an outstanding job educating students and student-athletes. I thank Bradley for playing a significant role in my family and in the life of our community.”