Neil C. Cooksey, Sr. ’83

Neil C. Cooksey, Sr. ’83, of Charlotte, N.C., born on July 25, 1961, passed away on Oct. 10, 2012, after an extended struggle with pancreatic cancer and its complications. Born to Arthur H. and Margery Cooksey, Cooksey’s life bore witness to a set of core values that were a major part of who he was: care for his family and fellow man, hard work, discernment, dedication, faithfulness, and service. Cooksey had a gentle way with people, which made it easy for him to work with everyone he encountered. His intellectual and social interests led him through some adventurous formative years in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, during which he sought to satisfy his inquisitive nature. These interests led him to North Carolina, where Cooksey graduated from Davidson in 1983 with an A.B. cum laude degree in political science. Cooksey traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe during these years, holding internships in the U.S. Department of Commerce, Foreign Commercial Service. Cooksey went on to attend the University of Michigan Law School, where he received his juris doctorate, solidifying his commitment to career and public service. His ties to Davidson would bring Cooksey back to N.C., and to the chance to meet the love of his life, Allyson McWhirter, a native of Charlotte. They entered into a marriage that endured for 25 years, including the births of their three wonderful children: Abigail Banner, Anna Nichols, and Neil Charles “Charlie” Cooksey, Jr. Important interests in Cooksey’s life often led him to the outdoors with family and friends. An avid hunter and hiker, Cooksey considered nature God’s manifestation of His glory here on earth, which instilled in Cooksey a correspondent duty to become a good steward of the land. This led to his and Allyson’s decision to donate the development rights of the family farm near Grandfather Mountain to the High Country Conservancy, preserving the property for future generations. His commitment to present and future generations was also expressed in Cooksey’s service to the Boy Scouts of America, Y-Guides, the Seigle Avenue Preschool Cooperative, and the United Way. His service to Carmel Presbyterian Church also was deep and abiding, and provided much strength to him and his family throughout his illness. Cooksey always believed in the importance of citizen engagement in politics, that every citizen has a duty to affect public policy for the better. He fulfilled that call by running for political office in 2008, when he ran for and won an open seat on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of County Commission. Cooksey answered this call again in 2010, winning reelection to his District 5 seat. Like everything he did, his public service was characterized by the core values that were the cornerstone of his life. As a result, his service on the County Commission was often characterized by the press and his peers as reflecting a “voice of reason” and just plain common sense. The resiliency which characterized Cooksey’s approach to life’s opportunities was reflected in his battle with pancreatic cancer and associated challenges since his initial diagnosis in February 2010. After the initial operation, Cooksey became determined not to confine himself to conventional medical wisdom or timelines. Cooksey fought the illness with vigor and was a role model for living a full life while beating the statistical odds. Cooksey’s recent battles were bolstered by the love and support he received from his family, who all grew tremendously through this experience and who contributed to his wellbeing immensely. Together, they all made these past years some of the most joyous of his life. Surviving are his wife, Allyson McWhirter Cooksey, 2300 Blakeford Ln., Charlotte, NC 28226-4925; his three children, Abigail Banner, Anna Nichols, and Neil Charles “Charlie” Cooksey, Jr.; his father and mother, Arthur and Margery Cooksey; his brothers, Buzz and Greg and their families; among many other close family members.