Obituary: Elva Bess Cook

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Elva Bess Cook, “Cooky,” as she liked to be called by her friends, passed away peacefully at her residence in Westwood on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, just a few months short of her 99th birthday.

Cooky was a part-time resident of Pine Cove from 1929 until her death. Her family had purchased two lots for $100 each and received a third one for free as an incentive to settle in Pine Cove. They pitched a tent each year until they built their cabin in 1946.

Cooky was born in Santa Ana on Jan. 10, 1911, to parents who insisted on college for themselves and their children. Cooky had education instilled in her from a very young age.

She graduated from UCLA in 1933 with a degree in teaching. She taught at Emerson Jr. High School in Westwood from its inception in 1935, when they first taught in tents, until she retired 32 years later.

Over the years, she was instrumental in helping family members and the children of friends complete their college educations.

Due to her great love of reading, she quickly made many friends at the Idyllwild Library and helped fund the Children’s Reading Room. She was a lifelong Democrat and very proud to see us elect the first African-American president. She was a member of the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and the Idyllwild Nature Center. She was a supporter of the Heifer Organization, the HELP Center, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, among many others.

She was one of the gentlest, kindest, most interesting and vivacious persons you could ever hope to meet. Her love of the San Jacintos and especially her beloved Pine Cove were a driving force of her personality. Each year when the birds returned, she returned.

Cooky was preceded in death by her longtime companion of 60 years, Mary Alice Myers, and her dear friend, Willabelle Mahoney, an early music teacher at ISOMATA. She leaves behind many nieces, nephews and dear friends who will miss her terribly.

A private burial is planned by the family. A Celebration of her Life is planned on Nov. 14, 2009, in Pine Cove. Please call (951) 218-2890 for details.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Friends of the Library in Idyllwild is suggested.

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