Wednesday, April 14, 1999
Families, neighbors honor couple
Lives, not deaths, focus of funeral
BY MARK CURNUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Shannyn Cook and her brother, Ryan, hug as thney leave their parents' funeral.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
Lee and Jacque Cook had planned to go to their nephew's wedding this Saturday in Milwaukee. There, they'd meet up with family from Georgia, Texas and Michigan.
Instead, many of those relatives were at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Symmes Township for the Cooks' funeral. They were killed Friday morning when a tornado destroyed their Montgomery home and hurled them 60 feet across Cornell Road.
But their deaths and how they died were not the focus of the service. Relatives remembered the Cooks' fun-loving passion for life, and the Rev. Tom Axe told them the couple now is with God.
“This is a comforting thought for me,” said Father Axe, who knew the Cooks and last saw them at Easter Mass, five days before they died. “They are more who they are now than ever. We're glad for them and rejoice with them.”
Jacque and Lee Cook.
The Cooks, both of whom turned 52 last summer, were two of four people who died during the storm.
During the prayers of the faithful, the family prayed for the other two people who were killed — Donald E. Lewis of Blanchester and Charles S. Smith of Loveland — and their families.
The caskets were wheeled into the sanctuary to the hymn “I Danced in the Morning.” Family members, led by the Cooks' two children, Ryan and Shannyn Cook, covered the caskets with a funeral cloth, representing how the deceased had been claimed by Jesus at baptism and will rise to eternal life with the Christian savior.
Above the altar, a projector showed the Cooks saying goodbye last summer to relatives at a family reunion.
Father Axe, the Good Shepherd pastor, noted that the congregation was made up of several communities — students and clergy from the University of Dayton, where Ryan Cook is a freshman; friends from the Montgomery Woods neighborhood where the family lived; Sycamore High School staff and students; and members of Good Shepherd.
“Grief is not bad — unless we deny it,” Father Axe said during his homily. “Grief keeps us in touch with the fact it is not all here (in this life) for us.”
He also called the time of grief “a window” that God will use to touch and comfort.
On Monday night, as family members planned the funeral at a Sharonville hotel, Kathy Masty, 74, of Vulcan, Mich., found comfort in how her oldest child and son-in-law died.
“I'm grateful that if they had to be snatched from us, they went together,” Mrs. Masty said. “They loved each other dearly.”
She also said that the couple had begun realizing a dream. Mr. Cook, a chemical engineer, started his own company to develop a chemically treated screen to protect drains from zebra mussels. Former co-workers and competitors in the business called Mr. Cook a genius who will be missed.
“Jacque was very supportive of him,” Mrs. Masty said.
Mrs. Cook was a social worker who was remembered for her compassion for people, especially those in need. She was a volunteer who met with people in shelters and their homes during the 1997 flood.
Mrs. Cook was a warm hostess and a great cook, her mother said, known for her beef Wellington.
Planning for the funeral was much like the funeral itself — some tears, followed closely by laughter. Bud Light flowed until 2 o'clock Tuesday morning.
“An Irish wake,” Mrs. Normand said, “just like Lee and Jacque would have wanted.”
Same for their nephew's wedding.
“Yeah, we'll all be there,” said Tim Masty, 39, Mrs. Cook's brother from Atlanta. “They'd want it to happen.”
Lee and Jacque Cook were buried side by side at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.