Sat | Jun 23, 2018

Exceptional woman! - Howard Cooke Jr says of mom, Lady Cooke

Published:Saturday | July 1, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Dr Howard Cooke, grandson of the late Lady Cooke, assists Cynthia Chin, his grandaunt to her seat at the funeral of Lady Cooke at the East Queen Street Baptist Church in Kingston, yesterday.
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force taking the urn containing the ashes of the late Lady Cooke from the church to the hearse yesterday.

Lady Cooke was described as a woman of exceptional value and the axis on which the Cooke family revolved, whose graciousness and meekness of heart made her a stalwart of virtue, according to her son, retired justice Howard Cooke Jr, at the official service of thanksgiving for her life at the East Queen Street Baptist Church in Kingston.

"Mama was the axis around which the family revolved. She never chased the glamour of the fashion at the time, but was cognisant to take care of family," Cooke Jr said in his tribute.

"She had set the bar high. Now she has gone home to be with 'Papa' - as she so affectionately called Sir Howard, the late governor general and her husband of 75 years," noted former Prime Minister Percival James Patterson.

Lady Cooke died on June 5 at the age of 100. She was celebrated as a meek humanitarian and the standard by which future ladies will be judged, according to Dr Simon Clarke, a close family friend.


Teacher and farmer


Like her late husband, Lady Cooke was a teacher and a farmer in her own right. During her time at King's House, she served as patron of the Jamaican and Caribbean Networks of Rural Women Producers.

Lady Cooke's sister, Cynthia Chin, said that she lived a full life, which was dedicated to uplifting others through her love for the teaching profession. She said Cooke made sure others were elevated to meet life's challenges.

"My sister was the eldest of the siblings. She has been my second mother. She was a person who believed that each person should have a place of honour," Chin told the congregation.

She told the story of how Lady Cooke warmed to the role of being the wife of the head of State, explaining that "over time, she became acceptable of the role she was asked to play".

The thanksgiving service was attended by several government members, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who read the second lesson.

His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen, governor general, read the first lesson, while Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips read the third lesson from St Matthew 5 verse 1-10.

Also in attendance were a number of members of parliament, past and present, members of the diplomatic core and the judiciary, as well as representatives from the Privy Council.