Joan was born in Liverpool 17th October 1942, fourth daughter and fourth child of Mum Nina and Toolmaker Dad Joe. The two boys, Michael (Mike) and Joe (Joey) followed within three years, making all six siblings Mary, Patricia (Paddy), Eileen, Joan, Mike & Joey true war babies..
The family moved to a Liverpool suburb, Huyton in 1948, then a small village but notable later for its Member of Parliament, Harold Wilson, who became British Prime Minister in the 1960’s. They were reared in the Catholic faith which Joan observed throughout her life.
It was in 1963, when Joan reached age 21 that she made her permanent move to the USA, where she soon proudly acquired American Citizenship. Prior to that, Joan had moved to London as an Au Pair to a doctor’s family, meeting three of the Beatles on a return train journey! Joan took similar employment initially but was working as a waitress when she and her partner had the treasure of her life - her son Michael Dennis. Joan showed her assertive independent characteristics for which she is noted, bringing Michael up as a single Mum and progressing in her employment as a supervisor in The American Bank Note Company. It was there that she learned of the death of her precious son Recon Marine Cpl Michael D Cooke, Bronze Star with Valor, killed in action 22 February 1991 in the Desert Storm Operation to free Kuwait from its Iraqi invaders. Like his mum, Michael had made many wonderful friends throughout his 22years. His girlfriend Lisa, also serving in the armed forces, has remained by Joan’s side since that fateful day, more family than friend.
Joan’s grief took over her life for many years but her faith and strength of character prevailed and she progressed in employment through a period as a Technician in a Public Health Laboratory, to her final employment with her close friend Cindy and the team at Blair Mill Village East as a leasing agent, where her precious “family of friends” supplemented the support of Joan's distant family so well. Joan had developed Rheumatoid Arthritis in her sixties and was hit with other serious health issues including lung cancer and a blocked colon. In 2013, while undergoing what should have been a routine reverse colostomy, Joan suffered a catastrophic burst colon. Intubated and in a coma for over two weeks, she was very fortunate to survive but her health was compromised. With the help of her amazing friends, she persevered for as long as possible as a valued member of Cindy’s leasing team, but a series of falls and fractures led to part time working and eventually retirement. Joan survived Covid and two bouts of double pneumonia but the toll on her organs led to her period in the hospice wing at Abington, surrounded by many devoted friends and her eventual peaceful passing on Saturday 14th August 2021.
Joan had arranged for he son Michael to be buried in her local Catholic cemetery on his death but was always concerned about what would happen when she died. After much thought she decided on the plan to move Michael to his final resting place at Arlington Military Cemetery. So began the “Journey To Arlington” project. With massive help from from so many friends, family, politicians, comrades and others, on the 24th May 2012, Joan’s son and Local Hero with a road named in his honor made his final 200mile Journey to Arlington, with a convoy of Biker Outriders, documented by Mike Zolomij in his Unsung Philly Story.
Joan lived a full, independent and assertive life as a Proud American, producing her beloved hero son, both gathering strong and enduring friends who will continue as part of her family in England and abroad. So loved. So very much missed by her family and precious friends..
By her youngest brother “Joey” Cooke
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Wounded Warrior Project
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