James David Cooke, Jr. was born May 3, 1945 in Charlottesville, Virginia to James David Cooke, Sr. of Pittsburgh, PA and Susan Louise Bryan of Reynolds, GA. He grew up in the mountains of Virginia, in the town of Lovingston, attending Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg.
He met his wife, Mary Enna Ottley (Pinky) in Decatur, Georgia when he was a senior at Emory University. In 1967, Dave graduated from Emory, married Pinky, and was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps. He flew combat missions in the A-6 Intruder in Vietnam and would go on to fly the AV-8A Harrier and the F-4 Phantom. Dave finished active duty in 1973, transitioning to reserves, where he ultimately achieved the rank of Major. Dave founded the Utility Service Agency in 1978, serving as president for forty-two years.
Dave was an outdoorsman, mentor, leader, and coach. He was a craftsman of the spoken word (heroic, serious, and colorful), a patriot, a soldier, and a friend. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He was passionate, generous, caring, honorable, hilariously funny, and at times a bit naughty. Above all, Dave Cooke was devoted to his family and his country.
Dave developed esophageal cancer in the spring of 2019. Despite initially successful treatment, by April of 2020, the cancer spread. He fought until the very end. His family is grateful to the medical staff at Duke Raleigh Hospital and Transitions Lifecare for their dedicated care. Dave died at home on February 9 with his wife by his side.
Dave is survived by his wife of 53 years, Mary Cooke; sister Louise and brother-in-law Fred Newton of Monroe, VA; brother Sydney Bryan Cooke of Mobile, AL; son Jim and wife Alexis (Wake Forest, NC) and grandchildren James (11), Mary Clare (8), and Charlie (6); son John and wife Nikki (Mt. Pleasant, SC) and grandchildren Ryan (21), Rachel (18), and Nathan (14); daughter Sydney and husband Scott Cowart (Chapel Hill, NC) and grandchildren Aurora (6) and Lucien (3). Dave leaves behind a close-knit family that will miss him dearly.
Should you wish to honor Dave with a charitable contribution, please consider The Semper Fi & America’s Fund (https://thefund.org)
The funeral will be live streamed Saturday morning at 10:30. Please follow the link and join us in honoring Dave.
Visitation will be from 5-8pm, Friday February 12th at Bright Funeral Home 405 South Main Street Wake Forest, NC 27587.
5-6:30: USA company friends and out of town friends and family
6:30-8: Wake Forest and local friends and family
We ask that due to the high-risk nature of gathering during a pandemic, that we not touch (hug, shake hands, etc) and we give each other space (6 feet)—even though we want to hug each and every one of you and it will be very hard not to. Please wear the disposable masks provided (or your own disposable masks) as they provide the best protection. Thank you for understanding-we have to balance seeing you all and celebrating Dad with keeping everyone safe and healthy.