August 1, 1991 - February 15, 2006
Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke, ON, GCMG, GCVO, CD, was born on November 13, 1915, in Goodwill, St. James, to David Brown Cooke and Mary Jane Minto. He pursued his early education at elementary and private schools, Mico College, and furthered his studies at London University. In his personal life, Sir Howard married Ivy Sylvia Lucille Tai on July 22, 1939. From this union, they were blessed with three children: the Honorable Justice Howard Fitz-Arthur Cooke, Richard Washington McDermott Cooke, and Audrey Faith Cooke.
Career: Professionally, Sir Howard dedicated 23 years of his life to the field of education. He began as a teacher at Mico College and went on to serve in prestigious roles at various institutions, including the Belle Castle All-Age School and Montego Bay Boys’ School. Subsequently, he transitioned into the insurance industry, holding significant positions such as Senior Inspector, Branch Manager, and Unit Manager at renowned firms.
Political Life: Sir Howard’s journey began as one of the founding members of the People’s National Party (PNP). His dedication saw him representing St. James in the West Indies Federal Parliament in 1958. Later, he became an integral member of the Jamaican Parliament from 1962 to 1980. During this period, he held various ministerial portfolios, including Pension and Social Security, Education, and Labour and Public Service. By 1989, he became the President of the Senate, a position he held until 1991. Notably, in 1991, Sir Howard was installed as the Governor-General of Jamaica, marking a pinnacle in his political career.
Interests: Sir Howard was also deeply rooted in community service and had diverse interests. He was the group scoutmaster for the St. Andrew Boys’ Scout Association and an avid sports enthusiast, having captained the Cornwall cricket team and played football for teams like Mico College, YMCA, among others. An advocate for Jamaican culture, Sir Howard actively participated in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission roles and judged in the renowned “Festival” competitions. In terms of his spiritual commitments, he was a lay pastor and senior elder in the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Furthermore, Sir Howard was a proud member of the Free and Accepted Order of Masons.
Awards: His life and service have been recognized through various honors and awards. In 1994, he was conferred with the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO). Prior to that, in 1991, he received both the Order of the Nation (ON) and the Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG). Sir Howard’s dedication to public service was also highlighted in 1980 when he received a Special Plaque for Distinguished Service from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, followed by being named a Commander of Distinction in 1978.