Troy Gagnon reads In Flanders Fields at the Gesthemini Gardens Cemetery cenotaph. (Special to The News)

Family observes without their father – for first time

Randy Cooke, who died in August, used to insist family attend Remembrance Day ceremonies each year

Kathy Cooke said her family would always make fun of her husband Randy for buying so many poppies each year.

“There could never be enough,” she pointed out.

The three-term Pitt Meadows councillor used to instill a reverence for honouring veterans in his family.

“My husband and myself have raised four children in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, and all of them know the importance of attending remembrance day every year,” she said.

“We would drag them along in the early years, and later they would go on their own, and continue to do so.”

This year was the first year the family would observe the day without Randy joining them.

Randy Cooke passed away in August at age 70, after battling a difficult illness for a few years.

“Even when he didn’t have the energy or stamina for much of anything, he would still attend,” his wife said, “I cannot remember one he didn’t attend through the 46 years we were married. “

READ MORE: Randall Cooke served three terms at city hall

This year Kathy Cooke met up with a few members of her family at Gethsemini Gardens Cemetery for a small private ceremony to honour those who sacrificed their lives in the Great Wars.

Her grandfather Ernest Gagnon, fought in both the First World War as well as the Second World War, while her father George Gagnon served in the Second World War.

Cooke’s father, John Cooke, drove a tank in World War Two.

“We arrived and read In Flanders Fields together, and then played The Last Post and some bagpipe music from our cell phones,” she said.

“Then we held our minute of silence and placed wreaths at the cenotaph, before my brother said a few words honouring our family members, and all those who served our country.”

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Father and son, Ernest and George Gagnon pose together in their uniforms. Ernest served in both World War One, and then served with his son in the Second World War.

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