Sir Howard Cooke is dead

Former G-G lived an active retired life

Saturday, July 12, 2014

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Former Governor-General, Cabinet minister and founding member of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) Sir Howard Cooke died yesterday. He was 98.

Sir Howard, who retired from public service in 2006, passed away at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston.

"He lived an active retired life. He still took his calls in the mornings, gave advice when requested and was chairman of a couple of universities," a relative of Sir Howard, who opted not to be named, told the Jamaica Observer last night.

"He was strong right up to the end; his mind was sharp," the relative added.

Sir Howard, who was sworn in as Independent Jamaica's fourth governor general on August 1, 1991, was born in Goodwill, St James in 1915 to David Brown Cooke and Mary Jane Minto.

He received his early education at elementary and private schools and pursued tertiary studies at Mico College and London University.

As a founding member of the PNP in 1938, Sir Howard was among the pioneers of Jamaica's political movement which led to him holding a number of positions in the party and serving Jamaica in various capacities over the years.

In 1958, for instance, he was elected to the West Indies Federal Parliament as the representative for St James.

Between 1962 and 1967 he served in the Senate, after which he sat in the Lower House from 1967 to 1980.

Between 1972 and 1980 Sir Howard held several Cabinet portfolios, including education, pension and social security, and labour and the public service.

He was president of the Senate from 1989 to 1991 and served on the executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Known to many as 'Teacher', Sir Howard taught for 23 years, first at Mico College and Practising School. Later, he served as headmaster at Belle Castle All-Age School, Port Antonio Upper School, and Montego Bay Boys' School.

His contribution to education also saw him holding the office of president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers.

In addition to his contribution to education, Sir Howard served in the insurance industry as senior inspector and branch manager, Standard Life Insurance Company; unit manager, Jamaica Mutual Life; and branch manager, American Life Insurance Company.

On July 22, 1939, he married Ivy Sylvia Lucille Tai. The union produced two sons, Justice Howard Fitz-Arthur Cooke, puisne judge; and Richard Washington McDermott Cooke, hotelier; and one daughter, Audrey Faith Cooke, a consultant in international affairs.

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