Cooke, Richard Leonard


The Apostle Paul gave to Timothy this advice:
Do your best to present yourself to God
as one approved by Him,
a workman who has no need to be ashamed.
Some sixty years ago, another young man began to think seriously about presenting himself to God. And as we come to the end of his life, we can say here was one who had no need to be ashamed.
Richard Leonard Cooke was born in Taylor, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, on July 10 ,1908.
He was the son of William Richard Cooke and Era Batton Cooke. He graduated from Minden High School in 1925 and enrolled in Tyler Commercial College, completing courses in bookkeeping, English and shorthand. He came back to Minden and entered into business.
In 1929 he married Mary Grace Burson; and a daughter, Mary Eneile Cooke was born in 1944.
About 1930 Leonard began to give serious consideration to answering the call to ministry in the United Methodist Church. To prepare himself he enrolled in Centenary College and graduated in 1936. He went to Perkins School of Theology, in Dallas and graduated with honors in 1939. Grace also graduated from Southern Methodist University with an A.M. degree.
In the fall of 1939, Leonard enrolled in the University of Chicago for postgraduate study. He returned to the Louisiana Conference in 1942 and was appointed to the four-point circuit in the Monroe District, Mangum. The following year he was appointed to the Broadmoor church in Shreveport.
Leonard and Grace worked hard to develop the new church. In less than four years the first building was dedicated and four years later the sanctuary was completed. Leonard remained as pastor until 1953. In that ten-year period the church had grown from about 400 members to more than 1800 members. He left a beautiful church plant.
In 1953 Leonard was appointed as Vice-President of Centenary College. He remained in that position for nine years. In 1962, he was appointed District Superintendent of the Lake Charles District and served there for a full term. Then he came back to Centenary College Campus to serve the Conference as Conference Treasurer and chief Financial Officer. He retired in 1978.
In 1959 Leonard was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1984 he was inducted into Centenary College Hall of Fame. In 1972, Leonard’s wife Grace died. In 1975 he married Mrs. Viva Caruthers, who passed away in 1990. He left us on February 19, 1992. Our conference is a stronger place because of his work. Truly he was a workman who had no need to be ashamed.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1992, p. 217 By Dr. Edward R. Thomas

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