Jake Cook

Obituary of Jake Calvin Cook

Jake Cook was born in Handley, Texas, on November 15, 1929, the son of Arvy and Frances Cook. He attended school in Handley until World War II began. During the War, he moved about the country with his parents and brother, Don, while his father was an Attorney and Major in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the Army. When the War ended in 1945, they returned to Handley where Jake graduated in 1947, with the members of his original first grade class. Jake lettered in football and basketball, and was named Most Athletic Male Student his senior year. He graduated from North Texas Agricultural College (now UTA) in 1948, UT/Austin in 1950, and UT Law School in 1955, where he studied alongside fellow law student Heman Sweatt. His studies were interrupted by the Korean War and he served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 as 1st Lt. at Koje-Do, South Korea, as a POW Enclosure Commander. His enclosure consisted of 2,000 North Korean POW’s. At the end of the War he made three trips to the de-militarized zone between South and North Korea to return North Korean prisoners to Panmunjom, one group being the last of the prisoners returned. Upon returning home and finishing law school, he married Jerry Jean Power in 1955. They lived in the Meadowbrook area of East Fort Worth and were members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. They had four children: Mike, Bart, Carrie, and Steve, and were happily married for 64 years. Theirs was a close and loving family, rich with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, much extended family, and many friends and colleagues whom he considered family. Some of their most memorable moments were spent in the mountains of Colorado at the small cabin they built together as a family during summer vacations beginning in 1972. He began his law career in the private practice of law in downtown Fort Worth. In 1970, Judge Gordon Gray named him Public Defender of Criminal District Court No. 4, where he ably served hundreds of defendants, twelve whom were charged with capital offenses, and none of whom received the death penalty. A permanent fixture in the courtroom, he often helped young defense lawyers as they tried their cases, passing them notes when it appeared they might overlook a procedural requirement. Some of them even referred to him as Yoda. In 1975, he was among the first group of lawyers in Texas to become Board Certified as Criminal Law Specialists. In 1979, he was named as one of the Top Ten Criminal Defense Attorneys in Tarrant County by a FW Star-Telegram poll of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. By special election, he was unanimously elected as judge by the practicing attorneys of Tarrant County Criminal Court No. 1, to complete the term of Judge J.C. Duvall, who took a leave of absence in 1982 due to ill health. In 1983, the Tarrant County Commissioners appointed him judge of the newly created County Criminal Court No. 5, which was originally located in the 1895 Courthouse. He, along with his court staff, served the citizens of Tarrant County for 12 years, where he continually earned the praise and respect of the lawyers who practiced in his court. In 1990, the Tarrant County Bar Association conducted its first judicial evaluation poll, and among all Tarrant County judges, Jake tied for first place with Civil District Judge William Hughes, each with an approval rating of 99%. A proud Democrat, Jake was one of the last county-wide elected officials who remained a Democrat, yet still ran unopposed in each term until his retirement from the bench in 1994. At the age of 65, he and Jerry moved to Pecan Plantation in Granbury. He continued his service to Tarrant County as a visiting judge from 1994-2007, and eventually moved to Keller for the remainder of his years. He and Jerry spent much of their time after retirement with family, friends, and neighbors. They were regulars at the Keller Senior Activities Center, and attended their grandkids’ school and sporting events which brought them much joy. In April, Jake lost his younger brother Don, but not before they reunited as roommates in memory care at Mustang Creek Estates. Both families wish to thank those who lovingly cared for Don and Jake in their final months. Jake passed away peacefully in his sleep on September 23, 2020, on the 33rd anniversary of his father’s death. He is preceded in death by his parents, Arvy and Frances Cook; his brother, Dr. Don Cook; his nephew Darin Cook; and his grandsons, Shane Cameron Cook, Stetson Jacob Cook and Shea Caydon Cook. As much as we would like to gather together to honor him, we feel it is better not to hold a memorial service at this time. We would, however, treasure any memories of Jake that you would like to share. Burial at the National Cemetery in Dallas will follow as their schedule allows. In lieu of flowers, please keep Jake and his family in your thoughts and prayers.