Joe C. Cooke, Sr.
December 25, 1929 – February 20, 2019
Joe C. Cooke, Sr., was born on Christmas Day, 1929, in Chehalis, Washington, and left this earth on February 20, 2019, in Olympia. Joe was a lifelong resident of Chehalis. His father, John W. Cooke, owned Cooke’s Jewelry in Chehalis; his mother Marie ‘Majie’ Clausen Cooke was active in Chehalis philanthropy and loved to play bridge. Joe grew up on the Cooke homestead on south Jackson Highway with his younger brothers Hugh and John. When he and Marilene married and started their family, his parents gave them part of the property, where they built their home. The brick farmhouse and the large barn that his father built, are now part of Blue Earth Farm, and the sturdy barn is a popular wedding and event destination. He attended school in Chehalis, community college in Centralia, and went to Oregon State University, where he played basketball for the Beavers. He met the love of his life, Marilene Fern Damon, while she was working as a librarian in Centralia. Marilene taught school in Napavine for many years. Joe and Marilene married during the Korean War, and Marilene joined Joe during his wartime posting, in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he served as a corporal, in the U.S. Army. Joe worked for the Production Credit Association, where he was manager of the Chehalis branch for 27 years, before retiring. His tireless and buoyant efforts to bring financing and support to regional farmers, timber growers, fishermen, dairymen, and shellfish growers was greatly appreciated by all who came to know him. He was also deeply involved in his local community. He was a member of the First Baptist Church; Forest Grange; Chehalis Eagles; past president of the Lewis County Farm Forestry Association; past director of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association; past exalted ruler of the Chehalis-Centralia Elks; president of the Chehalis School Board; and past president of Twin Cities Rotary. Joe also served as Lewis County Treasurer for four years. After retiring from PCA, he got bored and accepted a position as a vice president for Security State Bank, where he worked for another six years before retiring yet again. In his teens, Joe ran his father’s Jackson Highway ranch, and worked for other local area farmers. During his early twenties he worked as a field representative for National Frozen Foods. He had strong and deep ties with local agriculture and was a passionate supporter of local and regional farm issues. For nearly 50 years, Joe’s farm on Jackson Highway was known as Cooke’s Tree Farm — a meticulously maintained Christmas tree farm, also known for the 500 colorful rhododendrons surrounding the family home. Joe enjoyed the outdoors, hunting and fishing, wisecracking, golf and travel. After retirement, he and Marilene put many miles on their RV touring the US and Canada, and they made several trips to Europe and Hawaii. Joe and Marilene are survived by their four children: Mary Carol Baker of Chehalis; LeeAnne (Eric) Egge of Olympia; Joe C. (Katie D.) Cooke, Jr., of Walla Walla, and Gary E. Cooke, of Seattle. Joe and Marilene also leave behind seven much loved grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. Joe was preceded in death by his younger brothers, Hugh Cooke of Chehalis, and John Cooke of Quincy, WA; and his beloved wife, Marilene. A memorial service will be held at Sticklin Funeral Chapel in Centralia, WA, on Saturday, March 9, 2019, at 10 a.m. Inurnment will be held immediately afterward at 11 a.m., at Claquato Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held in late spring or summer, with the date to be determined. Donations in memory of Joe Cooke may be made to the Lewis County Historical Museum or the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis.
Celebration of Life
The Barn on Jackson
3605 Jackson Highway
- Memorial Service Saturday, March 9, 2019
- Inurnment Saturday, March 9, 2019