Jane C. Cooke (Ritsema), 89, died Friday, March 26.
Jane’s comfort in life and in death was that she belonged to her faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. Her joy was in God’s gift of family, which often combined with her love of sports and social gatherings. She regularly attended sporting and school events with her kids and grandkids, and gathered with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and brothers and sisters as often as possible.
The family celebrated annual Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, televised Big Ten rivalries, and the “Cooke Classic” golf outing. Jane also supported Cliff, and later Tom, on the farm. Together they built a thriving dairy—Sue Lynn Farms—where she was the primary bookkeeper.
Jane’s bookkeeping skills began at age 14 when she kept the books for her dad’s and uncle’s plastering businesses. She again used those skills while serving as treasurer of the CRC Rec Center for two terms. Jane actively served at Dorr CRC, where she served as education director, VBS coordinator, and missionary correspondent for many years. She also supported Dorr CRC’s refugee resettlement and served as transporter, translator, babysitter, tutor, job hunter, and mentor.
In recent years, Jane served as a board member for her church in Nettles Island, Fla. She was also a committed bocce ball player in the Nettles Island community. Jane and Cliff served for over 20 years as volunteers in Mexico, Arizona, Florida, Alaska, Honduras, and Venezuela for Wycliffe Bible Translators, HIS HANDS, and World Renew, where they embraced learning the local culture. Jane loved the ministry of Project Hope where she served as board member, cashier, and greeter.
Jane enjoyed golf and even had a hole in one. For many years she was a volunteer water aerobics instructor, both at Sandy Pines and in Florida. In 2006 Jane was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Dorr Lion’s Club recognizing her as a role model to her community and family.
She is survived by her children Barb (Terry) Lutke, Pat (Jack) Buist, Sandra (Dr. Brian) Roelof, Tom (Carlene) Cooke, Dr. Kathy (Dr. Dave Valone) Cooke, Sue (Bob) Snoeyink; grandchildren Chris (Eric) Hakken, Amy (Joe) VandenBerg, Dan (Lindsay) Buist, Dr. Sondra (Kyle) Rosander, Dr. Michael Buist, Wade (Erin) Jansen, Sara (Jeff) DeBoer, David (Sarah) Jansen, Jenn (Brent) Mingerink, Michelle (Matt) Koning, Stephanie (Brad) Sterk, Heather (Dan) DeBoer, Misha Cooke, Tanya Cooke, Alexander “Sasha” Cooke Valone, Megan Snoeyink, Madison Snoeyink; 29 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; and her siblings Al Ritsema, Sue (Bob) VandenBosch, Herb Ritsema, Rog (Char) Ritsema, Jim (Jean) Ritsema, sister-in-law Cheryl Ritsema, Bill (Verna) Ritsema.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, F. Clifford Cooke; parents Fred and Nellie Ritsema; brother, Bob Ritsema; sisters-in-law Joan Ritsema and Wilma Ritsema; and grandsons Jesse Buist and Andy Rusticus.
A private family celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 8. The service will be livestreamed to Dorr Christian Reformed Church’s Facebook page.
In memory of Jane and in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Project Hope or Moline Christian School.