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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Jack “Pops” Cook, it is easy to see that he had a heart of gold. He worked hard in everything he did, but he was also someone who believed in enjoying life, too. Jack’s love for his family was easy to see, and together he and his wife had a love that most can only dream of. A lifelong resident of the community he loved, he was known and loved by so many. Life will never be the same without Jack here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1950s were a vibrant time in America. Televisions were becoming part of our homes, Elvis Presley introduced the world to rock n’ roll, and by the end of the decade we had become a nation of 50 states with the additions of both Alaska and Hawaii. It was as this exciting decade dawned that Jack and Rochelle (Martin) Cook were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Jack on January 20, 1950, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was one of three as he was joined in his family by his brothers, Larry and Jerry, and they were all close in age. It has been said that Jack and his brothers raised their fair share of hell. To support their family his father was a builder. His mother stayed home while her boys were young, but later worked here and there.
In many ways Jack was a young boy of his generation. He was raised in the family home on two acres near a creek and swamp, which the boys enjoyed. All the boys were explorer scouts, and his father was a troop leader. Jack worked hard to earn the rank of eagle scout. His father was an avid fisherman, and every spring they speared the sucker fish and then took them home to smoke them. Jack attended Comstock schools and wrestled in high school. A lifelong motor-head, this was something he fell in love with at a young age when he bought his ’57 Ford and never looked back. It was an amazing buy and a great learning experience all rolled into one as Jack paid about $75 for it and fixed the flywheel himself. Being mechanical was something that seemed to be in his blood.
As a young man, Jack earned his GED then joined the military. He honorably served during the Vietnam War and was a Field Service Mechanic. Jack’s youngest brother was drafted to serve, and his father took part in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. After spending a few months in Vietnam, Jack was moved to Hawaii for the rest of his tour. Lucky for him, he was stationed near a drag race strip. While at home on leave, Jack’s family home had a house fire. He ended up having to carry his mother out of the home to safety, and he also had to push the car out. Jack ended up with severe burns on his arms, and both he and his mother were in the hospital for a while after the fire. With his military duties fulfilled, Jack began working at Frost Standard. It was also during this time that he married Denise and, although their marriage later ended in divorce, Jack was forever grateful for their son, Jack.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jack when he met Rita at a singles meeting. She knew he was a keeper when he dressed up as a woman for a Halloween party. They got to know one another, and they soon fell in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Jack and Rita were married on November 13, 2004. They made a great pair, and together they took cruises all over the world. Over time, Jack and his wife met so many fun couples on these cruises who became longtime friends. Although she was still working, they had been enjoying Jack’s retirement years as he had retired as an ink coater and laboratory manager at INX Int’l Ink Co. in 2008 after 40 years of service.
As his family and friends can attest. Jack was a man of many interests. A loyal Ford guy, he drag raced, stock car raced, and then about eight years ago he got back into stock car racing. Jack had also gotten his son into BMX racing. A foodie and self-taught chef, he loved food! Around home he really enjoyed roasting and grilling and was famous for his ribs and BBQ meatballs. Jack especially enjoyed eating out and then coming home and trying to recreate the recipes. A while ago they remodeled their kitchen, and it was a chef’s dream with three ovens. It has also been said that Jack had a kitchen full of all the unique gadgets. He loved to cook with all kinds of spices and, just like his mother, he was known for his sweet tooth and had sweets stashed everywhere. Jack loved entertaining including for a chili cook-off, white elephant parties, and hosting their Coping With Divorce gatherings, too. He loved sci-fi, was a Star Trek fan, and had an amazing ear for tuning audio stereo systems as well as engines. Jack’s home audio system was second to none, and you could hear their home movies at the base of their long driveway! He also enjoyed attending audio festivals and loved the Beach Boys. In addition to his creative cooking skills, Jack was also a great artist who drew cars among other things.
There were so many things to love about Jack. He was generous beyond comparison and the sort of person who would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it. Jack not only hosted their divorce group with his wife, he and Rita also spent several years volunteering as a driver for Senior Services Meals on Wheels. If Jack was talking, others knew to listen, and he always drew a crowd Wherever he went. Jack was very affectionate when it came to Rita, and he loved doting over her. His strength and resilience were inspiring, and even when battling prostate cancer, Jack was never one to complain.
All who knew Jack Cook would agree that he was a big teddy bear, He was selfless and someone who never wanted to ask for help as he lived to serve others. Jack had a vibrant sense of humor and could fill a room with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Jack G. “Pops” Cook, Age 71, died unexpectedly on January 26, 2021 at his home. He was preceded in death by his mother, Rochelle and by his first wife, Denise Cook. Members of his family include his wife, Rita Cook; son, Jack (Amber) Cook; 3 grandchildren: Jackson and Vaida Cook, and Diego Zoll; 2 step-sons: Terrence (Lisa) Scahill and Chris (Yvonne) Scahill; 5 step-grandchildren: Zachary, Garrett, Nico, Carlie, and Mina; his father, Jack (Virginia) Cook; 2 brothers: Larry (Penny) Cook and Jerry (Cathy) Cook; and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends 4-6PM Tuesday (FEB 2) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Wednesday at 12:30PM. Burial at Ft. Custer National Cemetery with military honors. Please visit Jack’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Senior Services Meals on Wheels.