Charles Lee Cooke ’59

Charles Lee Cooke, MD, died peacefully on January 22, 2024, at the age of 86. He was preceded in death by his parents, Moses, and Selma Cooke, and his sister Barbara and brother Kenneth. His survivors include his sons David (Kim) and Stephen (Hana), stepsons Rick Rowley (Laura) and Chip Rowley (Marie), as well as his brothers J. Robert (Nancy) and Joe (Kathy) and sisters Betty (Eddie), Marilyn (Greg) and Martha (Lawson).

Charley is survived by his wife of 44 years, Midge, and they have been blessed with ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They delighted in sharing life, new experiences, and sweet treats with these amazing human beings.

Charley grew up in rural North Carolina in the town of Cornelius. The family of seven children were brought up on the farm, which resulted in individuals who were hard-working and high achievers. After high school, Charley attended Davidson College, an institution that greatly impacted his life and passions, as he thrived in pre-med, music, and religion. His continued pursuit of higher education led him to attend Medical School at Chapel Hill, NC. After graduation from Medical School, Charley spent two years on rotations for the United States Air Force as an MD. Upon completion of his service to our country, Charley interned at the Medical College of Virginia. There, he joined the Staff of the Connective Tissue Disease and continued to live a life full of teaching, attending to patients, practicing photography, devouring history books, and crafting his woodworking skills.

After a 20-year tenure at MCV that saw him become a Professor of Medicine, Charley left to join a private practice. Once he retired from private practice, he continued to support the medical community by reviewing disability cases for Social Security until he was 82. His love of medicine and contribution to the profession continued to the end of his life.

Charley received many accolades throughout his life. Among these were Outstanding Alumni at Davidson College, Honored History Speaker by Richmond Academy, and Outstanding Physician in Richmond for Connective Tissue Disease. He also dedicated himself to volunteer work, which included Crossover Clinic (where he was honored), a docent at Chimborazo Hospital Site, and an elder at Second Presbyterian Church.

When he wasn’t helping patients or volunteering, he and Midge loved traveling, reading, cooking, and being with family. His proudest possession was his fully equipped woodworking shop in his basement. He spent countless hours crafting beautifully detailed wooden pieces, from picture frames to cedar chests, and many of his creations live on with his family members.

Nine years ago, Charley and Midge made the decision to move to Covenant Woods. Here, Charley thrived by founding The History Group, loving the great food, and socializing with staff and residents. He ultimately needed more care and spent almost two years in Health Care, where he was cared for by the wonderful staff, for which he and Midge were so grateful.

Donations in his memory may be given to the Scholarship Fund at Covenant Woods or the Organ Fund at Second Presbyterian Church.

The memorial service in honor of Charley will be held on January 31st at 2 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church located at 5 North 5th Street, Richmond, VA. Reception to follow.