By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
Dwyer Cooke is this week’s Picayune Item Super Senior.
Cooke is a 77-year-old veteran who served his country during the Post-Korea War, from 1953 to 1957,as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.He currently serves fellow veterans and community members in need through the American Legion Post 73, of which he has been a member since 1985. He has served as Post treasurer for two years. He does all of this, in addition to raising grandchildren and children, with his wife Susanne.
Cooke followed in the footsteps of his father and cousins, by joining the military when he was 18-years-old.
“To be honest, I had heard that my age group was next to be drafted and I just decided to go ahead and join,” he says.
Stationed out of Honolulu, Hawaii for sea duty and out of Marblehead, Ohio for shore duty. Cooke met his wife, of now 57 years, while serving shore duty.
He began working offshore after serving his enlistment term. The couple had five children while living in New Orleans East, in La.
“We moved to Picayune in 1978. New Orleans East was no place to bring up children anymore and Picayune was within an hour of the New Orleans airport, as was required for my employment. It was easy travel and we had a quiet place to finish raising our children,” said Cooke, who now has 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Through Legion fundraising events, such as Turkey Shoots, Cooke participates in contributions to Special Olympics, NJROTC, Wounded Warriors and scholarships to local high school seniors.
“We prefer to help veterans and their families in need but we extend help beyond that. We help the needy in the community, period. We are currently working on 150 baskets of food which will be distributed to needy families for Christmas,” said Cooke.
Legion Manager Keith Frierson, says, “He’s been my next door neighbor for 22 years and you won’t find a better person. He is a fine man. He has been an asset as the finance officer on our board here at the Legion.”
Even while caring for others in the community, family is the number one priority for Cooke. He and his wife just received custody of three great-granddaughters under the age of 10-years-old. His wife is employed in the Picayune School System and he has the responsibility for getting the three to their schools and picking them up each afternoon.
“I will talk about taking the girls to school and joke about making the ‘bus run.’ People think I drive a school bus for a living,” he says. “My motto is ‘Get ‘er done’ and that applies to everything I do and every situation. This isn’t our first time to raise grandchildren or great-grandchildren. We take care of our family. Family isn’t about always agreeing. It is about caring about each other and always ending a conversation with ‘I love you.’”
Cooke’s daughter, Kris Davis says, “He is the best dad, he is easy to talk to. I am proud of him for the work he does through the American Legion and in the community.”
“Mr. Cooke is a great veteran, father and grandfather. He cares for both veterans and their families. He has been an active officer on our board,” says Legion Judge Advocate Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald.