Jack was born on December 5, 1921, in Dixon, Nebraska, to Cora Alice Cook and Marion Francis Cook. He had five sisters, Edna, Edie, Ethyl, Margaret, and his twin sister Marylou. Being the only boy in the family he got more than his share of the attention.
Jack was raised on a farm on the outskirts of Pender, Nebraska, in the days when Model T Fords, horse driven plows, and outhouses were the norm. Large families were the order of the day in order to help work the farms. Much of Jack’s childhood was during The Great Depression but the family always had good food to eat. It was a conservative upbringing. Jack attended Pender High School where he played football and graduated in 1939.
With WWII going strong Jack joined the United States Coast Guard Merchant Marines where he sailed the South Pacific in harms way. On September 25, 1944, his ship, the SS Elihu Thompson, struck a mine entering the harbor at Espiritu Santos, New Hebrides, killing 33 army troopers. Jack earned a United States Coast Guard Honorable Discharge on December 25, 1945. The Merchant Marines were awarded U.S. military veteran status in 1989, and Jack was very proud of this and his service to his country.
On February 6, 1945, Jack married the first love of his life, Harriet Mae Bates, from Pender, Nebraska. They were married 44 years. Shortly thereafter Jack, Harriet, his mother Cora, and three sisters and their families moved to California. Together they had Margaret Kathrine (Peggy) Cook and Richard Cook.
Jack worked for the Long Beach Harbor Department from 1947 to 1978 where he retired from the position of Assistant Director of Port Maintenance after 31 years of service.
After retirement, Jack and Harriet moved to Bend, Oregon, where he built four homes and enjoyed retirement until Harriet passed away on October 8, 1989. Together they gave of themselves delivering “Meals on Wheels” to the less fortunate for several years. In 1992, Jack met Elaine Ross, the second love of his life, and they married on November 7 of that year. This marriage introduced him to a second family that he enjoyed for 26 years until his passing. He embraced and was welcomed into Elaine’s family. They had many great times together.
Jack was a real family man from start to finish. In his early and mid-adulthood family life centered around going to his mom’s house or sister’s houses in Long Beach, California, and having grand dinners prepared from scratch by the women of the family while the guys made homemade ice cream in the garage. Jack was a generous soul. If a friend or family was in need he would not hesitate to be there for them.
Jack was a good son, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather. He will be greatly missed as Harriet has been missed for many years but their love for each other will go on for eternity.
He is survived by his son, Richard Cook, granddaughters, Jennifer Cook and Michelle Ives, grandson Brian Cook, great-granddaughters Noel Ives and Maddilyn Cook, and great-grandsons Cody McKone and Colton McKone; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Today, Jack is being reunited for eternity with his first love, Harriet.