George William Cooke (1913-1990)

George was born on 28th April 1913 as the first child of George Ernest Cooke and Edith Mary Ann, nee Mayes. He had a brother called Cecil. When he was 31, he married Clarice Miller in 1945 at Bournemouth, Hants and they had daughter called Ann in 1947. Later they also adopted a second daughter called Christine.

George grew up with his parents living at School Farm off White Street where, at various times, his father was a coal merchant, carter and self-employed smallholder. George and Clarice continued to live in the same house, which became known as Rosemary Cottage, for the whole of their married life.  

George poured himself into a wide range of voluntary services; with his wife he was a staunch Methodist and Lay Preacher between 1935 and 1990;  he was the Secretary of the Rising Lodge of Oddfellows; the Chairman of Martham Parish Council for most of 1970’s and was Martham’s Councillor on the Blofield & Flegg RDC prior to Local Government reorganisation in 1973 and he followed that by being the village’s first Great Yarmouth Borough Councillor from 1973 to 1976. He was also on the Panel of Judges for the Best Kept Village; was the Chairman of the Governors of Martham First School; he was on the Police Liaison Committee and was the Chairman of the Norfolk Bus Users Committee.

Below is a photograph that includes George and Clarice with other representatives of the multi faith group at the official unveiling of a seat on the Village Green to commemorate the 1978 Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Far left Rev. Roy Coppac. 2nd left Jean Cunnington. Three gentleman centre front are Rev. Alan Cunnington; George Cooke; Barry Colman. Dora Miller behind Barry Coleman; Mrs Lovewell-Blake standing behind right of Barry Coleman; Clarice Cooke standing behind George Cooke. Also, there are Mrs Rhodes; Mrs Lown & Mrs Nunnerly.

George died in 1990 and Clarice died in Martham in 2001.  The following obituary to George was published by the Loyal ‘Rising’ Lodge No4780 of the Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

It is with deep regret that the Committee have to report the death of George W Cooke, Secretary of the Rising Lodge on 1st February 1990, after serving the Lodge as its Secretary for 30 years. A well-known and respected member of the District, Brother George, as he was affectionately known, served the District in many capacities. As well as being Secretary and Sick Steward of his own Lodge he served as Provincial Grand Master in 1978; as a member of the District Arbitration Committee; as a Lodge Book Examiner and attended seven Annual Meetings as a Deputy.

Brother Cooke also showed great concern for the welfare of the junior members always being assisted by his wife, Clarice. George was an active member of the Past and Present Officers Lodge and the Provincial Lodge of Past Grands and for nearly 30 years was responsible for organising the annual dinner of the Rising Lodge.

As Secretary of the Rising Lodge, he tried to encourage juvenile members to take an active part in the Fellowship, and he, with two other members, purchased a snooker table at their own expense for the Oddfellows Hall for the youngsters to amuse themselves at any time. For several years, he drove his juveniles regularly to Norwich to attend the Charles J Patching Juvenile Ritual Lodge. But sadly, during recent years, due to poor eyesight and failing health he had to relinquish the driver’s seat and take a less active part in District affairs. He concentrated on keeping the Rising Lodge together and was saddened at the thought of having to hand over the finances of the Lodge at the beginning of this year, although he had hoped to continue with the Rising Lodge remaining as an Unregistered Lodge. George was a quiet, unassuming and sincere Oddfellow. A man of few words but with strong opinions. He was highly respected and a well-loved member of the Martham community.

He was involved in many public services in many spheres, not for personal gain or self-glorification but for the good and welfare of members, friends and the public in general. He was Chairman of the Martham Parish Council for a great many years, and more recently until his death, he was on the Executive of the Association of Parish Councils. He was also a Lay Reader in the Methodist Church, travelling many miles on Sundays around the Methodist circuit spreading the Gospel and the Fellowship.  He took the Fellowship into the community. When peddling his wares as a travelling grocer, he would collect contributions and visit the sick. He was an Oddfellow through and through.

George and his wife Clarice were married for nearly 45 years and have one daughter Ann, and when she was about five years old, they adopted their second daughter,  Christine. George supported his wife, Clarice, in everything she undertook and especially in her work for the mentally sick. They were a unique couple who personified Oddfellowship in the true spirit of friendship, love and truth.

We give thanks for George’s life and service. The world will be poorer for his passing. Sincere condolences have been expressed to his wife and family.

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