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In loving memory of
Peter M Cooke
  • May 11, 1938
  • -
  • July 18, 2017

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Obituary

A Celebration of a Life That Touched So Many

On July 18, Peter completed his final expedition and is now with God. For all who knew this gentle giant of a man, his goodness and gentle nature, let’s tell each other of the joy and admiration we had for his life and how he touched all of us.

Peter began his life in Phoenix City, Alabama. At a young age, he came to Florida with his family, where his life evolved in so many ways that one wonders how he found the time to do all that he did and still make a difference in so many lives.

With his younger brother Paul in tow, they worked and played hard. Working hard meant being there for their mother, Brownie, in the family grocery store. Playing hard was a day at the beach, making sure each other did not get tossed about in the undertow.

Before graduating from the University of Miami in 1967, Peter was already serving his country in the Florida National Guard.  He completed Officer Candidate School at Camp Blanding in 1962. He finished his Airborne training in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1963.

He was already a second lieutenant in October 1964 when he completed the Jumpmaster Course in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Having survived an emergency parachute jump from an ill-fated C-119, along with the pilot and all 29 of his fellow National Guardsmen, on July 16, 1966, he was awarded membership in the Caterpillar Club. He was also awarded the Special Forces Flash in 1971 and honorably discharged as a Major from the Army in 1978.

In his private life, he was always there for his son, Peter. They enjoyed doing scouting activities together, from hiking in the mountains of Camp Daniel Boone, North Carolina, to the ultimate scouting experience in Philmont, New Mexico. They skied the mountains of Colorado, and constantly challenged each other in their workout routines.

Peter was Jill’s loving husband for over 27 years, having married in 1989. They enjoyed all the activities in the salty sea air of Fort Lauderdale.

When Jill’s career took them to Denver in 1998, Peter packed his bags without hesitation. They hiked and skied the glorious mountains of Colorado. In 2005, they purchased a cabin in St. Elmo, an historic mining town nestled in the mountains more than 10,600 feet above sea level. There, they worked together restoring a cabin for their family and friends to enjoy then and into the future. They came back to Florida in 2016, settling in Palm Coast, Florida.

Peter received his solo pilot certificate in 1968. As a private pilot, he landed and took off from the highest elevation airport in the United States, Leadville, Colorado.

It brought both Peter and Jill great joy when they were asked to sponsor a cadet, Mark J. Watkins, who was enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy. A mutual lifetime of love and respect continues to grow to this day.

The “Three Amigos” hiked the Grand Canyon, forged the jungles of Belize, braved the desolate high altitudes of the Colorado Rockies, went scuba diving in the waters in the Bahamas, jet skied across the ribbons of waterways that weave through Florida, and rode like “Muchachos” on BMW motor bikes throughout the West.

Uncle Peter, UP as he was affectionately known to his nieces, was a kind and compassionate man.  His nieces — Kelley, Brandi, Amy and Elise — and their children gave him great joy and pride, putting a twinkle in his eye and laughter in his heart.

Peter is predeceased by his son, Peter. He is survived by his wife, Jill, and brother, Paul. He is survived by Mark and Donna Smithberger, Beth and Glen Schumacher, nieces Kelley and Aeron Lane, Brandi and Mike Christl, Amy Schumacher, and Elise and Jeremey Hecht. His grand nephews and nieces are Caleb, Luke, Jacob, MaKenzie, Alycen, Noah and Addison.

Peter’s spirit will live on in those he loved. Find yourself blessed for having known his patience, humbleness and positive attitude. His challenge to you is to put the needs of others before your own:

“Show me how to find the courage to never be a coward in any situation that comes into my life.”

In lieu of flowers, donations made in honor of Peter Cooke may be sent to either one of these community organizations:

Historic St Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc.

P.O. Box 282

Nathrop, CO 81236

Haven Hospice

Development Office

4200 NW 90th Blvd.

Gainesville, FL 32606

 


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  1. 05 Aug 2017
    Joy Bellomo says:
    There was so much to admire about Peter; strength, gentleness, kind to everyone and funny. He enjoyed life and took all challenges on headfirst with a smile. While we didn't spend a lot of time together his friendship made my life better. I will keep a piece of your spirit in my heart so I can be a better person.

    Peter, thank you for making Jill so happy and loved.

  2. 05 Aug 2017
    Joy Bellomo says:
    My life is better because of being friends with Peter. He showed that it is possible to be strong, kind and gentle at the same time. His zest for living life to the fullest was inspiring. He was a man who could do anything, repair anything and do it all with a smile. I will miss him but will keep a piece of his spirit in my heart.

    I thank him for making my friend Jill so happy. It was fun to spend time with the two of them and see the love they shared.

  3. 05 Aug 2017
    Joy and Carol lit a candle:
    Lit since August 5, 2017 at 8:46:19 AM

  4. 01 Aug 2017
    Lee Kerrison says:
    Very Sad to hear this news.. Jill may God Bless you and your family during this very difficult time.

  5. 01 Aug 2017
    Lee Kerrison says:
    Jill....I am deeply sad to know that St Elmo and the world has lost a very special man. No words can describe our feelings .. I am sad to have not know Peter longer and if there is anything you need please let us know.. God bless you Jill and your family..Lee and the gang at St Elmo Store

  6. 01 Aug 2017
    William H. (Bill) Eades says:
    Peter, you will be missed greatly and you will never be forgotten. You were a brother it was privilege to have you as my friend.......Rest in peace, my friend.

  7. 01 Aug 2017
    Omi Deering says:
    I thank God for the blessing of Peter's friendship. He had many admirable qualities; i.e. compassionate, kind hearted, level headed, love of adventure, respect for his country, loving father and an amazing husband to Jill. I will keep him in my heart and will always be thankful and grateful of all the great memories we shared together. The times we spent in Colorado sharing espresso will be top of the list! Rest in Peach my awesome friend! I love you!!

  8. 01 Aug 2017
    Cindy Provenzano says:
    Dear Jill,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Peter was a very thoughtful and wonderful person. We will never forget the wonderful trip we had with you and him, and we will always miss him. You know John & I love you. Our deepest sympathies are with you. Please call us if you want someone to talk to during this tough moment and we will be there for you.

  9. 01 Aug 2017
    Lori says:
    Peter was an amazing man. We will truly miss him. He was a blessing to all lives he touched. It saddens my heart that he is gone, but he is with us always in our hearts and in spirits and how he touched and changed our lives. We love you Peter ❤️❣️

  10. 01 Aug 2017
    Lori lit a candle:
    Lit since August 1, 2017 at 8:24:22 AM

  11. 31 Jul 2017
    Cathy Howard says:
    Dear Peter, you are a role model in both Life and Beyond. I will always remember you for the gift of a story --- the one about Elvis the Packrat. Jill, do you remember this?
    I felt inspired to turn that story of a kind, gentle man, rescuing a pesky packrat, naming him Elvis and then liberating him -- an exemplary tale for children. Then I got too "busy". This will be my retirement project , dedicated to Peter Cooke.

  12. 31 Jul 2017
    Susan Watkins lit a candle:
    Lit since July 31, 2017 at 7:13:59 PM

  13. 31 Jul 2017
    Susan Watkins says:
    Peace Peter. I'd like to say 'rest in peace' but I imagine you're busy looking out for and taking care of others. You are a strong and magnificent LION in my eyes! A truly remarkable human being...sorely missed by many.

  14. 31 Jul 2017
    Omi Deering posted an image:
    Colorado will always be special because Peter & Jill were there!!
    Colorado will always be special because Peter & Jill were there!!

  15. 31 Jul 2017
    Bill and Nancy Davis says:
    Peter was "one of a kind"!! We are so glad he was part of our life and we will treasure our times with him and Jill. God Bless you, Jill and may Peter Rest in Peace. Peter will be miss!! Our love, Bill and Nancy Davis

  16. 31 Jul 2017
    Hannah says:
    Peter, I will miss you - one of the very few men I knew I could trust. Absolutely.

  17. 31 Jul 2017
    Fred JACA says:
    It's been years since we last talked but will always remember him and His service. God Bless Him.

  18. 31 Jul 2017
    Michael Zealy says:
    One of the qualities I most admired in Peter Cooke was his absence of criticism of others. Yes, he was a strict jumpmaster, but he would never use language that belittled the offender. Later, if he deemed it necessary, he would counsel you and challenge you to correct the deficiency he noted (out of earshot of others). I feel privileged to have known him. A fine man who lead an exemplary life. His departure has created great sadness in this former 2nd lieutenant.

  19. 31 Jul 2017
    Frank Bray lit a candle:
    Lit since July 31, 2017 at 7:25:04 AM

  20. 31 Jul 2017
    Danny lit a candle:
    Lit since July 31, 2017 at 7:43:56 AM

  21. 31 Jul 2017
    Danny lit a candle:
    Lit since July 31, 2017 at 7:42:35 AM

  22. 31 Jul 2017
    John R Calpini says:
    My Brother in Arms, Mentor and Friend!

  23. 30 Jul 2017
    Mark Watkins says:
    From the moment you met Peter you knew he was a special person. His integrity and solid friendship was never in doubt. But I'm not sure I ever really knew
    Peter. I came to terms with his private side and did get to know him better. It was funny because I wanted to be like him without really knowing Peter in detail. I do share his idea to help others before yourself. I hope to carry that on in his memory. I marveled at how Peter and Jill excelled together. They formed a solid team lifting each other to greater heights then either would have achieved separately. I know Jill will continue life at that level but I feel for the pain she will endure in the process of getting to that point.

  24. 30 Jul 2017
    Fred Hannum says:
    Dear Jill

    Our thoughts and prayers will always be with you. Pete was my mentor and OI will never forget his kindness.

    Fred & Julieta Hannum

  25. 30 Jul 2017
    Fred Hannum lit a candle:
    Lit since July 30, 2017 at 7:27:28 PM

  26. 30 Jul 2017
    Ed Githens says:
    Peter, your wit, wisdom, and friendship will be missed greatly. Your understanding and kindness will never be forgotten. You were a brother warrior and will live on in the memories of those who had the privilege to know. Rest in peace, my friend.

  27. 30 Jul 2017
    Jill Cooke posted an image:
    Thank you my sweet, dear and kind husband for 27 years of blessings.  It was an honor being married to you. I will miss you all the days of my life until we can be together again.  I love you.
    Thank you my sweet, dear and kind husband for 27 years of blessings. It was an honor being married to you. I will miss you all the days of my life until we can be together again. I love you.

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