“CAREFUL THIS IS GOD’S PROPERTY” were the words framed by the bedside of Mrs. Elease Cooke. For 102 years she held this title. The seventh of 17 children, Elease was born to the late Richmond and Lottie Halley Carter on Feb. 15, 1919, in Camden, South Carolina. For over a century, God took care of Elease and surrounded her with love and bountiful blessings every step of the way. On Wednesday evening, Oct. 6, 2021, God saw fit to call His servant on home from labor to reward.
Elease was reared in a Christian home filled with the love of God, love of family and love of people. Following in the footsteps of many of her older siblings, Elease moved to New York City in the 1940s. She married Julian Cooke in 1941, and from this union three children were born: Inez, Barbara, and Patricia.
In 1956, Mrs. Cooke joined Greater Central Baptist Church in Harlem. For over 65 years, she was a devoted servant leader to the congregation of Greater Central. She was a member of the Female Ushers Ministry for over 60 years. Her beautiful smile, soulful spirit, palpable warmth, and energetic presence blessed all whom she greeted each Sunday. She was also a devoted member of the United Ushers Benevolent League of New York State and Vicinity.
Mrs. Cooke loved her family, and her house was always the go-to gathering place for family and friends during holiday celebrations. She was an exceptional cook, and the love that she baked into every dish filled every soul.
For the last six years, she lived at the Isabella Center in Washington Heights, a place where she continued her ministry for loving God’s people. Her strong faith, unfailing optimism and “Jesus Joy” were an inspiration for so many of the staff and residents.
In 2019, Mrs. Cooke was featured in the Amsterdam News on the occasion of the 100th birthday. When asked what the secret to her long life is, Mrs. Cooke responded, “It’s simple, family, faith, hope and love, and kindness, yes, always being kind to others is the only way to live.”
The service of praise and thanksgiving for the life of Mrs. Cooke was held on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Greater Central Baptist Church in Harlem. Pastor Frank Hawkins preached a soul-stirring eulogy, “A Faithful Servant Receives Faithful Reward.” Rev. Frederick Crawford, pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church, Bronx, New York presided over the service, and grandson Julian Kenneth Braxton of Boston, Massachusetts shared a special tribute. In addition, Guest Minister of Music Elder Terence Kitchings and Minster Kenneth Gainey gave special musical tributes at the beautiful homegoing celebration. The interment took place at Mt. Kisco Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. Isaiah Owens Funeral Service of New York was in charge of the arrangements.
She leaves to cherish her memory three devoted daughters, three sisters, one brother, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.