'They don't make people like Tommy Cooke anymore'

DERRY SNOOKER legend, Tommy Cooke has been described as 'a wonderful man' and a 'man of many talents' at his funeral mass at St Columba's Church, Longtower this morning (Tuesday).
The late Tommy Cooke and his wife, Jean.The late Tommy Cooke and his wife, Jean.
The late Tommy Cooke and his wife, Jean.

Originally from Howard Street in the city, Tommy was a hugely popular figure in the local snooker scene and was a referee on the circuit for many years. The former window cleaner and Eucharistic Minister passed away on Sunday, aged 83.

Parish priest, Rev. John Forbes, a long-time friend of the family, said father of nine, Tommy will be remembered with great affection, adding; 'they don't make people like Tommy Cooke anymore'.

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"He lived a full life, singing in choirs, playing snooker over the years and made many, many good friends," said Fr. Forbes.

"He was easy company to be with and enjoyed the company of others. He even extended his house (in Barry Street) and built a snooker room with a full size snooker table. He ran charity competitions there and was a snooker referee here on the local circuit for many years. He was a very social and hospitable man."

His passion for snooker, his work within the sports community and his sessions helping out at the Age UK centre at Malvern House helped him win the title of 'Pensioner of the Year' in 2015.

Tommy also worked at Thompson Edwards Motor Company and in his later years at Arntz Belting and Fr. Forbes insisted he was never 'shy of work'.

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"He started his working life after he left school as a message boy for a small grocer. And then for many years he worked as a window cleaner. But nobody could say that Tommy was shy of work.

"He took the Eucharist to the sick for many, many years," he continued. "He was a voluntary parish worker in different ministries, and ended up being a voluntary sacristan until he retired just last year."

Fr. Forbes said Tommy spent the last couple of years 'lamenting the loss' of his 'childhood sweetheart', his wife of over 60 years, Jean who died in March 2019.

"I was honoured to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary mass here and their 50th and their 60th. And just a year after their 60th, Jean died which left a massive gap in Tommy's life.

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"He sort of died with her. He was lonely without her. The family did their very best for him but he was just in that mourning mood.

"They were childhood sweethearts. They lived in one another's company for 60 years and more.

"They were part of one another. They lived in each other's pockets. He lived for her. She lived for him. And together they lived for their family.

"That gap we hope was filled on Sunday when God called Tommy home."

Tommy is survived by his children James, Lawrence, Suzanne, Christopher, Edward, Bridie, Elizabeth, Sinead and Diarmuid.

May he rest in peace.

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