Longtime agriculture and environmental professor Dr. James “Jim” Cooke passed away Jan. 13 in Abilene after a short illness. He was 69 years old.
Cooke was not just passionate about his work, but passionate to drive others in their work as well, said family and friends.
“His two favorite things were working and playing,” said his wife, Cynthia Cooke. “As a professor, he worked hard to provide courses students would be challenged by. He wanted students to learn through their own lenses.”
Although passionate about his work, Jim Cooke made time to do the things he loved, mostly involving being outdoors and spending time with grandkids, nieces and nephews.
Cynthia Cooke said raising his children, having a loving family and finding ways to serve other people were Jim Cooke’s most significant accomplishments
“He leaves a great legacy in that way. The impact he’s had on thousands of students is something he would cherish. Former students have reached out back to him in appreciation, some even calling him a mentor.”
She said her husband lived a life representative of his favorite passage of the Bible, Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
“He loved the Lord and wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth, and he believed others should be good stewards of the planet God put us on.”
Cooke is survived by his wife and their three children, Emily and Jacob Wardell and their children, Witten, Jackson and Ella, Jennifer and David McMillian and their children, Brooklyn, David and Maddy, and Jonathan and Emily Cooke, as well as his “adopted” daughter, Anita Vigil. He is also survived by two sisters, Cate Dudley, and her husband Mike, and Cary MacMahon and her husband, Ray, and by several nieces and nephews.
Cooke’s legacy will be continued by his family and friends through the Jim and Cynthia Endowed Scholarship.