Caroline Hassett Buerk ’59, an alum and the longest-serving trustee in the university’s history, passed away March 11.

“The mention of her name calls to mind her warm personality, her sense of humor and her quiet-spoken manner,” reads an entry about Buerk (then Caroline Ernst) in the 1958 Summit yearbook, continuing: “She is best known as a helpful ‘big sister’ … and a tireless worker.”

Buerk joined Daemen’s Board of Trustees in 1976 – served as chair from 2003 to 2013 – and retired after 42 years in 2018.

Co-chairing Anthologies: The Campaign for Daemen, Buerk helped raise $11.5 million – the to-then-largest capital campaign in the institution’s history – to fund construction of the iconic Research and Information Commons in 2008. She also chaired the Daemen College 50th Anniversary Committee.

“She was really instrumental in helping lead the college into the future,” said President Gary Olson. “She was a tremendous advocate for the college and a dear friend to the Sisters of St. Francis.”

The intimate setting of Rosary Hill helped shape her future, Buerk said. “One of the steadfast benefits of small institutions was a faculty committed to personalizing education,” she told Daemen Today in 2004.

After graduating with a history degree in 1959, Buerk studied law and became a prominent attorney in Buffalo as a partner in the firm of Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blain & Huber.

A lifelong Western New Yorker, Buerk was the proud parent to six children, grandmother to 10.