Cooke, Jack


The name Jack Cooke conjures up several “elevated thoughts” of a man and his work in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. We think of him as a man of integrity, loving and caring for his family and friends; an effective preacher of the Gospel of Christ and a personal pastor to all his church members; gentle and kind in his administrative assignments; and possessive of a deep and abiding Christian faith. These are the character qualities that Jack Cooke brought to his ministry of 43 years in the Louisiana Conference.
Jack Cooke was born and reared in Minden where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. B. E. Cooke, were dedicated members of the Methodist Church. He soon found a place of leadership in the youth program and used his musical talents in the church choir. These early experiences in the church proved to be the means by which God called him to the vocation of a Methodist minister.
In his preparation for the ministry he graduated from Centenary College and enrolled in Duke University where he graduated with a B.D. degree in 1941, and was admitted to the Louisiana Conference. At a later date Centenary College bestowed on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.
While in Duke University he met and later married Miss Mary Ruth Smith, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. H. C. Smith of Durham, North Carolina. The Cookes are the parents of two sons, Harry Jonathan and Paul Marshall, and one daughter, Martha Ruth.
During his 43 years as an effective minister in the Louisiana Conference his appointments tell the story of a successful career: Rodessa, Plain Dealing-Benton, Coushatta, Welsh, New Iberia, Carrollton Methodist Church in New Orleans, University Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, Broadmoor Methodist Church in Shreveport, and Rayne Memorial Church in New Orleans. He served as Superintendent of the Shreveport District 1969-72 and the Lake Charles District, 1979-84.
Because of the quality of his work, he was named to several major conference boards during his itinerant ministry: Evangelism, Missions, Education and Ministry. He also was a member of the South Central Jurisdictional Board of Missions. His minister colleagues elected him a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Early in his ministry he was named Rural Minister of the year in Louisiana by the Progressive Farmer Magazine. In 1955 he was a delegate to the World Conference on Evangelism, and in 1964 be was a delegate to a Regional Conference on Missions in Denver, Colorado.
When he retired in 1984 he and Mrs. Cooke moved to Shreveport where I was privileged to be his next door neighbor. In his retirement years he became an expert gardener and a skilled woodworking craftsman, but his failing health cut short these activities. He died at home January 25, 1995 at the age of 78. His funeral service, in the form of a celebration of his full life, was held in the Broadmoor United Methodist Church of Shreveport where a large gathering of friends and loved ones beard Dr. Douglas McGuire deliver a fitting eulogy.
We close this memoir of our friend, Jack Cooke, with eloquent words from Shakespeare:

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man’.”
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1995; p. 251 By Bentley Sloane

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