Lasting Memories Left By Roy Henry Cook, Longtime White Center Resident
Roy Henry Cook was many things; a father and son, a brother and uncle and so much more.
He was also 96-years old.
This long-time resident of White Center passed away quietly in his home near his daughter in October 2010.
His long life included many adventures; being born and raised in a small, Eastern Washington town called Loomis was an adventure all on its own.
Roy graduated from Tonasket High School and, according to his daughter Doloris (Cook) Scharf, was both a track and football star.
“He carried his love of sports with him all through his life,” wrote Doloris about her father.
Roy would later rise to be a well-respected referee for high school sports.
“He took pride in his knowledge of the sport and the fact that he could keep pace with any player,” said Doloris. “He vowed that the first time a 16 year old out ran him was the day he would quit as a referee.”
And that is exactly what he did.
As story has it, noted Doloris, a 16-year old football player inched by Roy and beat him to the end zone. Roy was 56-years old.
Roy was the oldest son of John Sherman Cook and Naomi Jane (Colbert) Cook. He is one of six children; his siblings being: Glenn; Freddie; Nellie; Clarence and Robert.
He was preceded in death by his brother Clarence.
After high school Roy did something rather uncommon of his generation – he went to college.
For two years Roy attended Washington State University, (less than 50 years after the school was founded!) He then accepted a job with the Washington State Department of Highways, (WSDOT.) He worked here until joining the Navy in 1942, according to Doloris.
Stationed in the South Pacific, Roy served in active duty during WWII; after being released from duty here he was reactivated during the Korean War, where he acted as the Ships’ Cook First Class.
This time in Roy’s life was full of excitement, good and bad.
During the Korean War Roy contracted rheumatic fever and was sent to Newport, R.I.
This unfortunate situation had a light at the end; however, for it was then he met the love of his life, his then future wife Anita Ann Ferretti. They married in 1945 in Providence, R.I. and Roy was honorably discharged from the military. From here, he and his lovely bride moved to Olympia, Wash. and Roy continued his career with the Department of Highways; where he worked for 33 years.
As noted before, Roy was many things…not just old. He was the father of two daughters, Doloris Scharf and Donna Price. He was also a grandfather of two children, and great grandfather of two children. He was an uncle, a great uncle and even a great-great uncle.
He was also an amazing horticulturist who was able to grow trees which produced two different types of fruit through seed splicing.
“As a child we always had enough food because there were always vegetables. As always, Uncle Roy did it with flair. He grew strange plants, like African violets and weird vines and fruit trees,” said Beverly Cook. “He showed me how to graft one tree limb onto a different tree. His gardening had more of an art to it”
In addition to his gardening skills, he also raised honey bees.
One of his great nephews, John S. Cook III, said simply this when Roy passed away: “That’s so sad, he is the reason I like bees.”
“He was an avid and talented gardener and enjoyed working outdoors,” said Doloris.
Beverly Cook is one of Roy’s many nieces. She recalls her uncle as an excellent cook, (no pun intended.)
“When I was a kid, we often had family holiday potluck dinners. We had a big extended family, with many of them living in the Seattle area at that time, so it was pretty crazy,” she said. “There were many, many children, mostly blond hair and blue eyes, and lots to eat. Although it was probably not always the case, I remember that Uncle Roy always brought sweet potatoes. Sometimes they had marshmallows, sometimes pineapple or other fruit with them, but they were always wonderful.”
Bonny (Cook) Lusby, another niece, tries every year to mimic these sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving.
Perhaps most notably, Roy was an active member of his community, White Center, where he spent the greater part of his adult life.
He was a member of the White Center Eagles club for so many years, that some have said jokingly that he “came with the building.”
Roy held every position at the Eagles club, and was president twice; he was also a Golden Fleece member.
Even when he wasn’t in a position of authority, Roy always remained active in the goings-on and the running of the club.
Another one of Roy’s hobbies included bowling. He bowled throughout the year and began the “Aerie 2568 Clowns” bowling team; (bowling team for the White Center Eagles.)
“He was junior coach for young bowlers at West Seattle’s Roxbury Bowling alley for many years,” wrote Doloris.
“I never won an argument with old Roy Cook,” noted an Eagles member.
Roy always stood his ground and would not back down when his mind was set.
(It should be noted, this stubborn behavior is an inherited family trait.)
Roy made lasting memories for everyone who knew him; especially members of his family, immediate and extended.
“His brothers were a pretty gruff group of characters, but Uncle Roy seemed different,” said Beverly. “While the rest of them would argue and get loud, he seemed to always be smiling and laughing; loud just the same, but in a wonderfully happy way. Arguing made the rest of them happy as well (it was their pastime), but his happy and laughing loudness was not nearly as intimidating to a bunch of little kids.”
Beverly also describes her wedding reception where Roy and Anita broke it down on the dance floor “John Travolta” style.
“They would spin and leap and generally show us all how it was done. Dancing with the stars had nothing on them. Maybe it was just that I had never seen really good dancers before, but I thought they danced like Fred and Ginger,” she said.
One of Roy’s older nephews, Bill Cook, remembers visiting his uncle and aunt with his parents as a young child.
“We were at his home in the 50,s when we saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show. I had mom’s ukulele with me, I was only 6 or 7 years old,” recalled Bill.
“What always made me smile was Uncle Roy’s obsession with Buicks. He would drive no other car. He thought they were better than a Rolls Royce,” said Bill. “One time I drove up to mom and dad’s and Uncle Roy was just leaving but his battery was dead. I think he left his lights on. I told him I would jump start his car. His response was ‘Oh no, this is a Buick.’ What that meant I do not know. I told him lets try it anyway and I started his car.”
Roy was many things to many people; he was talented and strong willed; and obviously he lived a very long and happy life.
To me, he was “Great Uncle Roy.” I, (Rachel Lusby,) will always remember my great uncle for his compassion to my mother during the time my grandfather’s health was fading fast. He gave her “emotional back-up” during this period, which is so needed for anyone in that position.
Also, Great Uncle Roy reminded me so much of my grandpa, right down to his big hugs and sloppy kisses on my cheek. I remember his 94th birthday party at the White Center Eagles a couple years back. He was decked out in his famous blue suit, smiling big next to Doloris and his friends at the Eagles.
When I walked in I went to him and said, (loudly) “Hi Uncle Roy. It’s Rachel, Clarence’s granddaughter.” He got a huge smile on his face, (another way he reminded me of my grandpa,) and was so happy I was there. He seemed to really enjoy having family around.
He took me by my hand and walked me around the room introducing me to everyone. “This is my baby brother Clarence’s granddaughter. She came to see me at my birthday party.”
I still smile thinking about this day.
In a poem written and recited by Doloris at the funeral reception, every aspect of Roy’s personality is reflected; his talents, his stubbornness, and his strength. He definitely left an imprint on the lives of everyone who knew him.
“I know that now he walks in gardens
Brilliant with flowers that he planted
And lavishes with tender care; their color
Brighter than his imagination.”
By Doloris Scharf