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Frederick Charles Cooke, age 73, passed away at home, surrounded by family, from complications of pancreatic cancer. In the last three months of his life he was constantly surrounded by family and friends and tended to around the clock by his loving wife. He will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.
Fred was born May 22, 1950 to Ed and Agnes (Sutter) Cooke, was raised in Shelby and graduated from Shelby High School in 1968. He was a member of the 1967 NOL Champion Shelby Whippet football team and voted to First Team All NOL right tackle. He attended The Ohio State University, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education. After marrying Lynn (Mayer) Cooke in 1973, they moved to Xenia, Ohio where he taught at Xenia and Belbrook. He received his Master’s Degree in Ag Business from The Ohio State University. He then started the Agriculture program at Southern State College in Wilmington, OH. After four years, he moved back to Shelby where he would remain for the rest of his life. He farmed alongside his dad, Ed, and then later, his son Charlie. He taught at Willard High School and spent the majority of his professional life as the Vocational Agriculture teacher at Shelby City Schools. Upon his retirement, he continued to be an active member of many organizations that made a positive impact on his community that meant so much to him: Richland County Farm Bureau, Richland County Soil and Water Conservation District, Shelby First United Church of Christ, The Ohio State University Mansfield Board of Regents, and Ohio Consumer Council.
Fred was a family man. He enjoyed traveling the country with his wife, Lynn, and especially loved visiting France with her to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. He loved that his three children lived close together and that he got to be a part of their lives not just as children but also as adults. He absolutely adored all of his grandchildren and was a major fixture in all of their lives. He enjoyed telling them stories, taking them to Friday morning breakfasts, going to their sporting events, animal shows at the fair, plays, concerts, and teaching farm school.
Being a teacher was a big part of who Fred was. He was a Vocational Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor for over 30 years and had the honor of making a big difference in the lives of thousands of students. During the last months of his life, many students reached out with common messages: “Mr. Cooke was the best teacher I ever had”, “Mr. Cooke was the first person to believe in me”, “Mr. Cooke is the best man I have ever met”.
He was known for taking his students on lots of field trips, as well as his “Cooke-isms”. These words of wisdom he displayed on signs all over his classroom and shop. Once a teacher, always a teacher, Fred enjoyed passing down knowledge to his children and grandchildren about life on the farm and life in general. He was dedicated to the Richland County Junior Fair, helping his own children and students with projects and spent many years revitalizing the fairground facilities.
One of his many Cooke-isms was “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”. But it was the small stuff in life that he enjoyed the most: simple times spent with family and friends, working on the farm, mowing his lawn, grocery shopping, watching Lifetime Movies, singing in the church choir, pie (there’s no such thing as a bad piece of pie), watching the Buckeyes and TBDBITL. He cherished the many traditions he established with his family: vacationing at Ocean Isle Beach, NC, Labor Day trips to Cedar Point, big holiday celebrations, and so many others.
A true people person, Fred believed in showing up for others. He was often the first one on the scene in a crisis and loved being around to celebrate the good times. He was generous with his time and money, hospitable with his home and conversation, and loyal beyond all else. His memory lives on in his wife: Lynn Cooke, children: Kelly (Todd) Schroeder, Allison (Jay) Fordyce, and Charlie (Kyle) Cooke - grandchildren: Olivia and William Fordyce, Carmen DeVito, Grady Schroeder, and Kayne, KC, and Kash Cooke; three sisters: Carol (Mel) Shults, Linda Gundrum, Sue (Roger) Daniel - many nieces, nephews, extended family members, and lifelong friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and nephew, Jeff Gundrum.
Friends may visit the family at the Barkdull Funeral Home & Crematory, Tuesday, December 12, 2023, from 3:00 to 8:00 PM. Services, celebrating Fred’s life will be held at 10:30 AM, Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at the First United Church of Christ located at 23 Church St. in Shelby.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to The Shelby Foundation to establish a fund in Fred’s Memory or the Shelby First United Church of Christ.
The Shelby Foundation
142 N Gamble St, Shelby OH 44875
First United Church of Christ
23 Church Street, Shelby OH 44875