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Nelsen Williamsburg

OBITUARY

John Robert Cooke

September 11, 1930July 15, 2021
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I find the typical scripted obituary to be a bore, so this is my personal farewell.

As Frank Sinatra once so aptly put it “And now, the end is near. And so I face the final curtain. My friend I’ll make it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, I’ve traveled each and every highway. And more, much more I did, I did it my way…”

If you’re reading this, it’s safe for me to say, “He’s dead, ya know”. For those who knew me well, you’ll know that was my lifelong running joke, so how could I not insert it here?

In my lifetime, I had but three goals. The first, was to become Labor Secretary because of my work in Industrial Relations. The second, to become Dean of the Business School at W&M and the third, to be a good husband. It was never for me to say, but I’m hoping I did one out of the three.

I have lived a full life, most of which I was fortunate to share with my darling Wife, Barbara. She was always my source of comfort and without fail, supported my dreams and aspirations. I made career changes that lead to many moves. We developed relationships with everyone we met along the way, and had more friends than I could possibly list.

Barbara and I did our best with what we had and it is clear in retrospect that the joy was mostly in the doing. The result has been a sense of accomplishment, sheer pleasure and a modicum of security.

We were fortunate to have a couple kids, who had their own kids, who had kids of their own. In fact, we won a couple of t-shirts at a high school reunion, just for having so many great-grands.

I have enjoyed many of life’s finer things and I never believed in taking things for granted. I can knowingly affirm that I worked hard and earned everything that I had.

Being the youngest V.P. at the Bendix Corporation, holding significant positions at Timex & Clark Equipment and enjoying 24 years, as the Owner of my own consulting firm, The London Group. During my time at Bendix, I had the great fortune of being on the Engineering Counsel for the University of Notre Dame, which in turn, lead to my family’s great Love for the Fighting Irish.

Retirement was not something I ever truly mastered. I spent years at the Mason School of Business at William & Mary, The Mainers Museum and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

I saw humor in almost anything and I tended to blurt it out when it hit me. A great tactic for debate and for roasting friends when the opportunity was knocking. Some may say I was wise, and others may say I was wise with a few other choice words. But No One can say that I didn’t embrace the challenges in life and took risks to improve my success.

My fondest hope is that those who follow will come to understand, appreciate and cherish the beautiful things we have acquired over our lifetime. Beauty is peaceful and makes conflicts and concerns bearable.

To my family and friends, know that I have always loved you and I’ll be keeping an eye on you from above.

Go Irish!

Yours Eternally, John (aka Snoop, Cookie, Dad, & Papa)

A visitation will be Tuesday, July 20 from 6-8PM at Nelsen Funeral Home, 785 Strawberry Plains Rd, Williamsburg. The service will be Wednesday, July 21 at 11AM with the interment to follow at Cedar Grove, 809 S. Henry St., Williamsburg.

In lieu of flowers, the Cooke Family asks that donations be made to the Williamsburg Community Foundation to the Ryan Gregory Cooke Memorial Fund, (www.williamsburgcommunityfoundation.org).

Online condolences may be shared at www.NelsenWilliamsburg.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Tuesday, July 20, 2021

  • Service

    Wednesday, July 21, 2021

  • Interment

    Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Memories

John Robert Cooke

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Michelle Bowman

July 19, 2021

Papa was simply great. He was always there for every achievement or event that happened in my life. Whether it be prom, getting my drivers license, or getting my first “adult job”, he was always there to say congratulations. He cared so deeply for every member of his family, and made it a point to let them know. He will definitely be missed, but never forgotten. We love you, Papa! I’ll be sure to let you know what time the Notre Dame game is on!

Larry Pulley

July 19, 2021

Soon after he joined our remarkable Executive Partners organization as one of its founding leaders in 1998, John became a spectacular mentor, advisor, and friend to a novice dean of the W&M business school at the time--me. He had an indelible impact not only on me but on the entire Mason School of Business. I will always treasure him and the friendship we had. Heartfelt sympathies to his family.

Mindy Cooke

July 17, 2021

Papa,
There are no words that will ever due justice to the memories and legacy you have left behind.
To the world you were and strong willed and determined businessman but to me…you’ve always been papa, the man who could draw hilarious cartoons on a paper placemat.
Thank you for all the many lessons you taught me, the tough love that helped me grow and the love you showed me my whole life.
Knowing you’re now reunited with Gram & the boys, as well as many other loved ones…sincerely helps our hearts.
You are missed so much already and loved forever.

Russell Cooke

July 17, 2021

Deepest condolences to Jeff and Cary and Shelley and all the extended Cooke, White and Rickert family. Thinking back to many happy times: childhood visits at the house in Paramus ... the amazing home in the Connecticut woods ... South Bend ... a dinner in London ... and a Williamsburg stay. But the most special memory was seeing the warm, loving and enduring relationship of two brothers, Bobby, the elder, and Johnny, the younger, who'd been through the Depression together as children and emerged whole — after a peripatetic upbringing that took them from New York to Florida — who talked frequently about life's joys and sorrows, and who kept their special bond strong until one left us, now joined by the other. In peace and remembrance.

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