The Most Honourable Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke, ON, GCMG, GCVO, CD, KSt.J
Former Governor-General of Jamaica
Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke (13 November 1915 – 11 July 2014) was the Governor-General of Jamaica from 1 August 1991 until 15 February 2006.
Early life and educaiton
The Most Honourable Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke, ON, GCMG, GCVO, CD was born in Goodwill, St. James, on 13 November 1915. He is the son of David Brown Cooke and Mary Jane Minto. He was educated at elementary and private schools, Mico College and London University.
For 23 years he served as a teacher, starting at Mico College and Practising School. He later served as headmaster at Belle Castle All-Age School, Port Antonio Upper School and Montego Bay Boys’ School. He was a member and former president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers.
During the course of his career, he served in the insurance industry in the following positions: Senior Inspector and Branch Manager, Standard Life Insurance Company; Unit Manager, Jamaica Mutual Life; Branch Manager; American Life Insurance Company (ALICO).
Sir Howard Cooke entered politics in 1938 as one of the founding members of the People’s National Party. At age 23, he was the youngest member of the group that wrote the Constitution of the Peoples National Party at the party's formation in 1938He has been chairman and also a member of the Executive and National Executive of the Party.
In 1958 he was elected to the West Indies Federal Parliament, as the representative of St. James. At the time of his passing, Sir Howard was the last remaining member of the short-lived Federal Parliament.
He entered the Jamaican Parliament in 1962 and served as Senator until 1967. He served as a member of the House of Representatives between 1967 and 1980, and was a Minister of Government between 1972 and 1980. As Minister, he held, at different times, the portfolios of:
- Pension and Social Security
- Labour and Public Service
He was president of the Senate from 1989 to 1991 and served on the Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Sir Howard served as group scoutmaster and secretary for the St. Andrew Boys’ Scout Association. He captained the County of Cornwall cricket team, and, at various times was a member of the Mico College, YMCA, Portland and St. James football teams.
He assisted in the establishment of community centres in east Portland and various community organisations in his home parish St. James.
His interests extend to Jamaican culture and for many years, he was a member of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and was secretary and local chairman of the St. James Cultural Commission. He also judged in JCDC “Festival” competitions.
He was also a senior elder and lay pastor in the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and is a lay pastor and past chairman of the Cornwall Council of Churches. He is a member of the ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons.
He was installed as Governor-General of Jamaica at King’s House on Thursday, August 1, 1991.
On 22 July 1939, he married Ivy Sylvia Lucille Tai. This union produced two sons, the Honourable Justice Howard Fitz-Arthur Cooke, Puisine Judge, and Richard Washington McDermott Cooke, Hotelier; and one daughter, Miss Audrey Faith Cooke, who is now a guidance counsellor in Canada.
Honours and awards
- 1994 – Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) – conferred on him by her majesty Queen Elizabeth
- 1991 - Order of the Nation (ON)
- 1991 - Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG), conferred on him by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
- 1980 - Special Plaque for Distinguished Service from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- 1978- Commander of Distinction
Sir Howard Cooke died at the age of 98 on 11 July 2014 at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. He was accorded a State Funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral, 1 George Headley Drive, Kingston on Friday, 8 August 2014, followed by burial at National Heroes Park.