Ron Cooke was born in Aberdare on 23 August 1927, the son of Thomas J. Cooke, a railway shunter, and his wife Edith, née Jenkins, of Gloucester Street, Maesydre. He attended Aberdare Boys County School from 1939 to 1945, passing his School Certificate in 1943, and Higher Certificate in 1945. He subsequently attended U.C.W. Aberystwyth. He married Margaret J. Griffiths in 1955 and the couple raised two daughters. He taught physics at Bridgend and completed his career as Deputy Headmaster of Brynteg Comprehensive School, in Bridgend.
Ron died in June 2016, and at his funeral his close friend Lyndon Harries, (ABCS 1941–47), delivered a valedictory address which is reproduced below.
Ron was one of my oldest and dearest friends. He was a scholar and a gentleman and it is a privilege to be able to express some valedictory thoughts on his passing.
We were brought up and spent our Grammar schooldays in Gloucester Street, Maesydre. Those were golden days when we played cricket in the street against Mrs Jones’s back door: Ron, Len Hutton and me Walter Hammond. We scored centuries hammering a tennis ball past Ma Jinks’s corner shop and down the street in those long ago summer days.
As we grew stronger and bolder there were hikes up the Graig mountain and beyond — to the mining village of Cwmaman, for example (where Alun Lewis, the famous lyric poet of World War 2 was born; not to mention the more recent Stereophonics rock group!) The home for a penn’orth of chips. What carefree days they were!
Then, inspired by the concerts given by the school choir there was music! Isobel Baillie and Peter Pears came as soloists in Handel’s Acis and Galatea. We soon developed a taste for the classical composers — and during the war there were famous musicians who visited the Coliseum that helped seal our interest: Moiseiwitsch (the renowned pianist), Sir Adrian Boult & his BBC Symphony Orchestra — and the wonderful Kathleen Ferrier whom Ron and I instantly fell in love with. Those were heady days indeed!
And so to College: Ron to Aber and me to Cardiff. But we came together again when I got my first post at Bridgend Boys Grammar School where Ron was Head of Physics. After a couple of years I migrated to Pontypridd Boys Grammar School where I had an appointment as Head of English.
There followed the middle years when Ron and I were much occupied in work and bringing up families. But we kept in touch and in the last few years we used to meet for lunch in Cardiff when we gossiped happily for hours about times past and more recent events.
But the years had taken their toll and I was saddened to hear of Ron’s wife’s deterioration in health and recent hospitalisation.
Ron’s passing came as a shock. But though no longer with us he will always be part of us.
Ron’s wife Mrs Margaret Joyce Cooke died within a few months of her husband in September 2016. Joyce was formerly a Primary School Teacher at Oldcastle Primary and Bryntirion Junior Schools, both of which are in the Bridgend area. She was a past pupil of Aberdare County School for Girls and took her School Certificate there in 1948.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Lyndon Harries, Park Lane, for making his farewell address available.
CR. 31 March 2017