For Janet Cook
Updated: May 10, 2019
With sadness, we are mourning the passing of my mother this week.
Celebration of Life Service
Thursday May 16, 2019 2:00 pm
Sun River Church
11223 Trinity River Dr, Rancho Cordova
Janet Enid Cook
September 7, 1941 – May 4, 2019
Janet Cook passed peacefully into eternal life on May 4, 2019 while resting at home in the care of her loving husband, Edward James Cook, her family and friends. She is survived by her husband; her children Kenneth Cook, Robert Cook, Janelle Southerland and her husband Shane; and her brother Robert Belsey. She was a beloved Nana to her five grandchildren Nathan Cook, Ryan Cook, Spencer Southerland, Stewart Southerland, and Addison Cook. She was treasured by many as a life-long friend.
Jan was born in Oxnard, California on September 7, 1941 to Alfred Douglas “Doug” Belsey and Helen Katherine Belsey (Bagby). As a young girl, her family moved to many towns throughout California. She recalled hot summers in Visalia and Anderson. She remembered seeking refuge in the cool movie theaters and listening to her favorite radio shows like the Lone Ranger, and Fibber McGee and Molly. She loved visiting her many aunts. At age five, she attended Donner school in Sacramento, in the same kindergarten class as her future sister-in-law. Her family moved to Lloyd Lane in Sacramento just before her teen years, where they made dear friends and Jan watched television for the first time. Finally settling in Arden Park, she attended the new El Camino High School.
She fondly recalled being invited to Alexandria, Virginia at age sixteen to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding, where she attended a pool party hosted by the bride’s neighbors Gerald and Betty Ford. She never took up with the new rock-and-roll, preferring the gentler popular songs she grew up with.
On her way to a football game with friends, Jan was at the corner of Arden and Eastern when a new young man struck up a conversation. He and his buddy joined her group for the game, and the two soon started dating. Their affections for each other prevailed over rival suitors and initial family objections. After graduating from high school in 1959 and attending a few college classes, Jan married Ed in the chapel of the First Baptist Church on April 9, 1960. For their honeymoon, they drove down the coast to visit Disneyland. As Ed trained to be a plumber, they started a family and moved to Carmichael where they found joy in their long marriage of 59 years.
Jan found many ways to show love for her children and her friends. She was involved in years of her boys’ baseball teams and took them to tennis and swim lessons. She played a bit of tennis herself. Watching Peggy Fleming, she would wistfully say, “I could have been a beautiful skater.” Later, she gave her daughter that opportunity, and supported Janelle in ice skating lessons and shows, for years driving regularly to Stockton for lessons. She sewed many of Janelle’s costumes. When Bob finished a college paper in the wee hours of the morning, he came out to find mom working to finish a dress for Janelle.
Those of us lucky enough to hear it know she played piano beautifully. She played publicly just once we can remember, accompanying a grade school musical. She was Ken’s first piano teacher and had all her children learn music. She had a lovely singing voice and would sometimes ham it up, singing “The world owes me a living!” or “Mairzy doats and dozy doats.” Likewise, she was a naturally skilled artist. She painted very little, but what she did produce was delightful and inspired us. Jan was beautiful in her stylish party dresses and equally game to sleep and cook in the dirt on the annual Meeks Bay camping trips. She loved dogs, her two Springers, both named Patches, being her favorites. She loved cooking in the kitchen with my dad, and we hold memories of their taking breaks for passionate hugs and kisses.
Volunteering for a PTA membership drive, she created cutouts of giant-sized Roadrunners with a classroom number written on each bird. To show membership progress, each day she advanced the Roadrunners across a desert scene mounted up high in the cafeteria, all of them running from a salivating Wile E. Coyote. She found other ways to support the family financially, providing years of daycare for a neighbor’s child. In the 80s, she took more college courses and boasted with pride about her 4.0 GPA. She greatly helped in caring for her grandchildren whenever she could.
Throughout her life, Jan gathered and kept close friends, some for 60 years, and many more as she and Ed worshipped at First Baptist, Arcade Baptist, and finally Sun River church. She traveled, most often to the ocean; she loved feeling the cool sand on her toes. Jan and Ed made many trips with other couples, to Hawaii and Mexico. She took a trip alone with her daughter to return to the historical sites and museums in DC. Jan and her best friend toured the Northwest, and with Ed and close relatives visited New England and Canada. Another trip found them in Virginia and Maryland. She loved going to San Diego to visit her daughter at college, staying a Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn.
Jan was a wonderful hostess. No party or family dinner was complete until the table was full of her homemade food and universally acknowledged best-pecan-pie-in-the-world. In recent years, she enjoyed talking with friends, watching old movies and sports, especially college football and golf, doing puzzles, and keeping up with family. She was always watching out for her family. She and Ed would call each grandchild on their first day of school to sing “School days / School days / Dear old golden rule days,” a ritual the children relied on to start their school year. With her amused good humor, she perfected the role of the sensible one, surrounded by her family of comedians, until those crazy moments she would get caught up in the antics. She has left us 59 years of photos, all organized in albums, many journaled...all but one small Costco box of photos. Wow!
Jan repeatedly demonstrated her inner courage as she fought to maintain her health. Her success allowed her to enjoy many years with family, friends and see all five of her grandchildren become wonderful adults. She will be greatly missed and live in our hearts forever.