The family of Jack Cookson would like to announce his peaceful passing at the Lacombe Long Term Care Centre on July 8, 2021 at the age of 92.
Jack was born in Lougheed, Alberta on October 29, 1928 to Catherine (nee Brown) and Herbert Cookson. Jack was the second of four children and is survived by Ken (Betty) Cookson of Lacombe and Margaret Fox of Vancouver.
Jack is survived by his four children Bruce, John, Robert and Sally and their partners Hania, Moira (Williams), Shirley (Mitchell) and Ken (Weenink). He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Amanda Cookson and Jasmin (Jeff) Abt; Matt (Kristy), Chelsea (Landon) and Jill (Will) Weenink; Katerina and John Cookson. In addition, Jack is survived by two great grandchildren (Maverick and Keely and a third expected this fall).
From an early age Jack was inquisitive and mischievous. He was active just as he was all his life. His family spent their early years farming in the Lougheed area and then in 1942 the family moved to Tees, Alberta. At the age of 14 dad was sent to Banff to assist a widowed aunt who operated a boarding house. Jack chopped wood for her while he attended and graduated from Banff High School. At first it was a lonely time for Jack, however, judging from photographs of him at the time it is doubtful he was lonely for long. He was handsome, had blue eyes and a quiet but appealing personality. Jack persevered, graduated, taught school briefly in a one room schoolhouse in 1947 at Birch Lake and when finished went onto the University of Alberta where he earned a degree in Agriculture in 1951.
After he graduated Jack sold agricultural chemicals and spraying equipment for the National Grain Company. As a travelling salesman he criss crossed the roads in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He loved music all his life and taught himself saxophone in those early years, practising by the side of the road on the long trips across the prairies.
After working for the National Grain Company dad moved to Wetaskiwin where he served for a year as a Field Supervisor for the County of Wetaskiwin.
All good things come to and end and are replaced by better things and Jack’s single days came to an end on June 23, 1956, when he married Ann who was from Wetaskiwin. Ann was the bedrock for the family and with her support Jack really began the energetic and ambitious life that followed. After working for the County of Wetaskiwin as a weed inspector for a couple years Jack purchased a farm north of Lacombe in 1956 and with Ann’s help and the help of his children Jack built up the farm and operated it until his retirement.
Jack, however, did not just farm. He taught school from 1958 to 1963. He was elected a counsellor for the County of Lacombe from 1963 to 1971. Jack then tried his hand at provincial politics and after an initial loss in 1967 he rebounded and won the Lacombe riding in 1971. He served as MLA from then until 1982 winning two more elections. During his last term Jack served as the Minister of Environment.
Jack was 54 when he retired from government. He continued to farm. Again restless, he looked for other challenges and a few years later he became a realtor for Century 21 in Lacombe. In 2000, by this time fully retired from other occupations, Jack, and Ann, moved off the farm into Lacombe. Jack never gave up farming, however, and he continued to work on the farm with John until 2012.
After his retirement from politics Jack found the time to really pick up his saxophone again and for many years he played regularly with good friends from the Lacombe area. He organized music sessions at Kozy Korner and bluegrass and old time fiddle and bluegrass festivals in Lacombe. Jack also began playing baseball again after many years and he and Ann and their grandchildren had many wonderful times travelling to slow pitch ball tournaments throughout Alberta. He also began painting and was very prolific at producing his post card size canvasses.
When Ann passed away in 2015, Jack moved into the Lacombe Lodge where he lived, happily, until 2020. Eventually, however, his Parkinson’s disease made life more difficult. Parkinson’s was the reason that he had to give up driving his car, playing baseball and his saxophone. As a substitute he took up the harmonica and he used to joke that his shaky arm provided him with a natural tremolo.
In 2020 and 2021, needing more care Jack spent most of his time in the Lacombe Hospital and for the past ten months he resided in the Lacombe Long Term Care Center.
The family would like to thank all the staff at the Lacombe Lodge and the Lacombe Long Term Care Center who cared for dad during his time with them and to Dr. Matt Unger, his family doctor.
Dad was much loved by his friends, family and by his grandchildren with whom he was always kind and generous with his time and wisdom.
Donations can be made in Jack's name to the Parkinson's Association of Alberta, Unit 120, 6835 Railway Street SE, Calgary, AB, T2H 2V6, https://parkinsonassociation.ca/
Funeral Services will be held at Wilson’s Funeral Chapel, 6120 AB-2A on Tuesday, July 13 at 2 p.m. Fellowship will follow the service at the Wilson’s.
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