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Letha Cooke

Miller's Memorial Chapel 

Graveside service at North J Cemetery at 9:00 am 

Block A Row W Grave 29

Portrait of a smiling elderly woman with white hair and glasses, against a blurred background.

Letha Jewell Cooke, Went home to be with her Lord & Savior on April 25, 2024 at 96 years old. She was born Letha Jewell Collette on March 12, 1928, to Andrew Charles and Pearl Mae Collett, the seventh of eight children, in Geary, Oklahoma. She spent her childhood on the family farm in McPherson, Kansas before attending Los Angeles Pacific College for two years. It was at LAPC that she met her husband, David Cooke.  They were married in McPherson on August 25, 1948. After their marriage, they moved to Berkeley, California, where she worked to support her husband as he attended the University of California. 

In 1950, David and Letha moved to Tulare, California, where she supported David's new venture in ownership of the Tulare Clinical Laboratory, keeping the books for the laboratory in the early years of the business. They became members of Parkside Chapel, in Visalia, where Letha served as a Deaconess for many years. She taught Sunday School to the children and served on many church committees. She is probably best known as the deaconess who suggested mud wrestling at the church picnic.

Letha and David had four children, Allyn, Carolyn, Cynthia (Cindy), and Barbara (Barbie) in the 1950's, and Letha devoted her time to raising them. She loved her time raising them, encouraging them and being their biggest fan. She was a regular spectator at their sporting events, whether it was wrestling, for Allyn, or swimming, for Carolyn, Cindy, and Barbie. Their house was always full of family and friends, and Letha's infectious sense of fun. 

After her children were grown, Letha, along with Dave, found a need in the Central Valley and worked tirelessly to fill it. In the early 1980s, Visalia became home to many SouthEast Asian refugees. Their needs became Letha's passion. She helped to bridge the cultural gap that the refugees found when they arrived. She conducted countless cultural presentations at Valley schools to educate the community on the lives of Southeast Asians. She attended doctor visits with women to advocate for their healthcare needs. She helped the women sell their handmade textiles at art and craft shows. And she shared Jesus with them. When a Mienh service started at Parkside Chapel, Letha was their pianist. Her service to this group lasted for over two decades, and her love for their community lasted much longer. 

Letha's children had their own children, eventually numbering twenty-eight, and she even had one great-grandchild. Gramsie loved being in their presence, and she could often be found at their music and drama performances, sporting events, graduations, and grandparent days. Her house was where the grandchildren could always find a story, an ice cream, and cookies. 

In Letha's later years, she suffered with dementia, and she moved from her Tulare home of 60 years to an assisted living home in 2015. She is survived by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchild, and her sister, Rhoma Mikkelson of Salem, Oregon. She is preceded in death by her husband of 57 years, David Cooke (2005), and many friends and family. 

A memorial service to honor Letha's life and ministry will be held at Parkside Chapel in Visalia, California, at 11am on Friday, May 17th with a lunch reception immediately following.