Joseph Cooke, Sr., a retired U.S. postal clerk and a respected leader in the Toledo area bowling community, died Sunday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 82.
He had leukemia the last decade, and he bowled for much of last year, his wife, Crittie, said.
“He was a strong man. He never gave up,” she said. “His doctors were amazed.”
Mr. Cooke was recognized for meritorious service as he was inducted in December, 2010, into the Greater Toledo U.S. Bowling Congress Association hall of fame.
“To me personally, it is the most outstanding thing that could have happened to me as far as bowling,” Mr. Cooke told The Blade in 2010.
“For me, bowling has been a good way to really bring the community together in all areas. You meet all types of people from lawyers to doctors and all races. It’s the only sport that brings things together.”
Mr. Cooke, a former president of the local association, taught young people to bowl and helped start at least two leagues for older bowlers. He was a delegate to National Bowling Association conventions, and bowled in regional and national tournaments. He also traveled to American Bowling Congress conventions.
His highest average was 207, with a 765 high series, and he bowled a 300 game.
“He was always such a distinguished gentleman,” said Berene S. Miller, a former president of the Toledo Bowling Senate. “He had such beautiful form and delivery on the lanes.”
Mr. Cooke started bowling in his late 30s.
He and his wife were not yet married when he first went to watch her bowl Friday evenings at the former Imperial Lanes. The next year, “he picked up a ball and started bowling,” his wife said. “He was much better than I ever had been. It was his technique. Everything he did, he wanted to be the best at.”
He bowled in several leagues through the years and became an expert in the rules and regulations of the leading bowling groups. He often was called on to mediate disputes in leagues.
“People admired him and looked up to him and he was well-respected on the lanes,” Ms. Miller said.
He was born Nov. 20, 1930, in Fairmont, W.Va., and he was a graduate of the local high school. His father had friends in Toledo, and he moved at his father’s urging.
He was employed at the former Rossford Ordnance Depot. He was a clerk for 25 years for what became the U.S. Postal Service, retiring in 1986. For many years, he worked the 4:30 a.m. shift, sorting mail at the main post office downtown. He later was part of a crew that traveled by truck to small post offices around northwest Ohio.
He was a member of St. Charles Borromeo Church.
Surviving are his wife, Crittie, whom he married Aug. 2, 1973; son, Kevin; daughter, Sharon Parker; stepson, Jimmy Roberson; 14 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation is 7-9 p.m. Friday in the C. Brown Funeral Home. Services are 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Charles Church, where a family hour starts at 9 a.m.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.