It is with regret we announce the death of one of our past Presidents Bill Cooke.

Bill passed away on 2nd March 2012. Below is the transcript of the eulogy that I gave at his funeral.

 

 

Bill Cooke

Bill Joined Farnborough Rotary Club in 1996. He was introduced by his very good friend Don Hartley, who no longer is a member of our club as he has left the local area, but is here today.

I joined in 2001, 5 years later, but Bill didn’t really come onto my radar until a couple of years after I joined. I noticed him, because of his wry sense of humour and always seem to add something to club debates that were thoughtful and considered.

The motto of  Rotary is “Service Above Self” and this is something that Bill, as you heard from Andrew just now in his job as a local government officer , espoused…But  not only at work but in his private life too.

In our Rotary club,  Bill always seemed to look out for the newer or younger members. He liked to encourage new members to put themselves forward.  In fact Bill would chastise you if you made disparaging remarks about anyone within the club, as I personally found out, Bill always thought the very best of people.

One of his favourite charities was Barnardos Children’s  Homes, Why I’m not exactly sure, but Barnardos does give a start and a helping hand to young people in difficult circumstances and I think this is something that inspired Bill.

Bill was President of our club in 2008-2009. In fact this was our 50th anniversary year and I know that it was a proud moment for Bill when he became President.

But, as you know, Bill wasn’t always on time, even when he was president…

We start lunch every Thursday afternoon at 1 O’Clock sharp and members normally arrive at 12.30-12.45, so they can catch up with other members goings on and then  eagerly study their watches to make sure the bell goes  on time to start proceedings.

Nothing can start without the president…

Bill would often arrive at 2 minutes to 1 and amble across to his position at the head table, adjusting his skewed tie , just as the bell was about to be wrung.  He always seemed unconcerned and unflappable, almost surprised that anyone would think that he would actually arrive AFTER one!

As with any large organisation, even at a local level, things have to be debated and sometimes things can even get heated, yes Rotarians can get hot under the collar as they debate things like, whether we should be served  sausages more than once  a month..

But it was at the more serious debates that Bill was best at….( when he was president), especially when it came to the direction or stance the club should take as he adroitly handled debates with a steady hand and Always…Always with a sense of humour.

That Bill was President during our 50th year was indeed fortunate. It was a job he handled gracefully. And because it was a special year, the president had extra undertakings.

One of them was to present a clock with the rotary emblem to the Kingsmead shopping centre in Farnborough.

After the presentations were over I asked Bill if I could interview him on video for our blog, of course the unflappable Bill said yes.

I have interviewed scores of people, but for some reason, I kept tripping over my words  (it happens sometimes) after the 4th take and apologising to Bill profusely, I looked at the camera to start the 5th.. Before I could open my mouth, I got a tug on my shirt by Bill who was smiling at me and said “don’t worry mate we’ll get it this time”…And so we both laughed out loud  and the 5th take was easy.

Bill’s president’s night at the Camberley Heath Golf club was filled with a 150 people, consisting of  members, their wives and  local dignitaries , including the top man in Rotary in the Uk and Ireland.  But Bill was not fazed by this, I think he even relished the limelight for one just night.

I know that he was extremely proud that his family was there on the night to support him.

A small group of Rotarians went on a three day cruise a couple of years ago. On the first night, Bill, Wendy, myself and my partner Lisa went to the nightclub, for a late night drink…As Bill and I sat down and chatted and laughed, Wendy and Lisa danced the night away and often I glanced at Bill as he watched Wendy with love and admiration.

Of course as soon as the slow songs came on Bill, didn’t amble…He  was up like a rabbit.. dashing towards the dance floor eager to dance with Wendy …Great fun to watch..

I don’t which of us went to bed first, but I do know that Bill didn’t resurface for 18 hours..it must have been a good night.

Bill was a private man, I wish that I had known him better, I wish I had known him longer and maybe there’s a lesson for us all there.

But we were lucky to have him as a Rotary member….

We were lucky to have him as our president during such an important year

and

We were lucky to have him as a friend…

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