AMHERST – The community has lost a huge friend and supporter with the passing early Thursday of Don Cooke.
“It’s sad day for our family and for the community and friends of Donnie,” Cooke’s sister Elizabeth Cooke-Sumbu said. “We’re getting flooded with calls today with stories and condolences. We know he had lots of friends. It’s a really sad day.”
Cooke-Sumbu said family was up to see him on Wednesday night, but complications associated with the pancreatic cancer that he was diagnosed with three weeks ago set in and he died early in the morning.
“We spent some time with him and he called at 11 last night wanting to know how the kids were. We were heading up early this morning when we got the call,” she said.
Cooke was honoured earlier this year during African Heritage Month, being named one of six unsung heroes who make a difference in their community. He was recognized as someone who has been a role model and mentor and someone who would help those in need, stand up for justice and equality and have a positive impact on the community – often without recognition.
“It was so nice for him to receive that honour,” she said. “He’s the kind of guy that does a lot of things for people in the community and he never looked for anything in return. You could call Donnie and at the drop of the hat he’d be there, whether it was food, or clothing or money.”
A Facebook site was set up Thursday for friends to give tributes.
“Donnie, you are a part of us all. We will remember you everytime we take a breath, love you always,” Donna Chapman wrote on the site.
Jennifer Kathleen Morris Cormier said he’s going to be deeply missed by his friends.
“A gentle soul, a kind spirit, a true gentleman and always with a smile for everyone,” she said.