Vice Admiral Edward William Cooke (USN Retired) died Friday, February 3, 2017 in Oklahoma City, Okla. He was 95. His children moved him in 2016 to be close to his daughter's home.
Admiral Cooke was a longtime resident of Memphis, Tenn., retiring from a lengthy naval career in 1978 and going to work for WR Grace Corporation in Memphis.
Born in Fonda, Iowa on August 9, 1921, Edward was the fifth of six children born to Edward Cooke Sr. and Mary Mackey Cooke. Growing up on a farm he often joked he knew early on he did not want to remain behind a horse and plow all his life. Graduating from high school at the age of 14, Edward moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to be near his oldest sister and her husband. While there he worked at a Chevrolet dealership, diligently seeking admission to the US Naval Academy. Awarded an appointment to the Academy in 1942, he graduated in 1945 (class of 1946) and shipped off immediately to the South China Sea where he commanded a Navy mine sweeper clearing the sea of munitions at the end of WWII. It was one of his proudest achievements. He would go on to live a life of achievement.
Edward was named Commanding Officer of the naval nuclear submarine school near Idaho Falls, Idaho in the late 1950's. From there his career took him to New London, Conn. where he was the Executive Officer on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Future promotions saw him as the Commanding Officer of the USS George Washington, the USS Skate and the USS Harder. From there he went on to command Submarine Squadron Five and Submarine Flotilla One in San Diego, Calif. In 1971 he was promoted to admiral and soon moved his family to Washington, DC where he was the director of the Budget for the Navy. He finished his Naval career as the deputy chief of Naval Operations-Logistics.
A big believer in education, Ed was a distinguished graduate from The School of Naval Warfare in 1967, he also earned an MS degree from George Washington University and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Once retired, Edward was asked to take on the role of director of Development for the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. In this role he successfully raised money for Catholic schools and was instrumental in the building of a new church in Cordova, St. Francis of Assisi. Additionally, at Bishop Daniel Buechlein's request, Edward initiated and coordinated Mother Teresa's visit to Memphis in 1989. Mother Teresa spoke before thousands at the Mid-South Coliseum and opened two mission homes for the poor in Memphis.
Edward founded and supported the US Navy League in Memphis, a military organization dedicated to assisting the families of the US armed services. Additionally, in 1988 Governor McWherter appointed Edward as the Chairman of the USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) commissioning project.
Ed passed on a great love of the outdoors to all who knew him. His eternal optimism, bright mind and strong faith were part of his daily countenance. Ed always believed there was no better cure for any poor feeling than a good long run or some sort of rigorous exercise. This devoted man, father, husband and grandfather will be dearly missed by all he served, especially those who loved him and were loved by him.
Edward was preceded in death by his parents and siblings. He also lost his wife, and love of his life, Bobbe Cooke in 1987. His second daughter Ann Cooke died in 2015. He leaves five living children including Ed Cooke of Burlington, Conn., Bruce Cooke of San Diego, Terre Cooke Chaffin (John) of Oklahoma City, Patte Hastings (Jay) of Bartlett and son Dave Cooke of Knoxville, Tenn. In addition Edward had eight grandchildren he loved dearly including Michele and Rian Buckley of Washington state, Luke and Bobbe Chaffin of Chicago and Nashville, Jennifer Hastings and Mary Meyers of Memphis, Kellie Maxcy of Murfreesboro, and Joe Hastings, a seminary student in Rome, Italy. He also leaves behind five great-grandchildren and one on the way; Paige and James Bethune, Jacob, Maxwell and Noah Myers of Memphis and William Maxcy of Murfreesboro.
His Funeral Mass was held Tuesday, February 14 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 8151 Chimneyrock Blvd, Cordova, Tenn. Interment with military honors followed at Memorial Park Cemetery.