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Katharine White Cooke ’41

A picture of Katharine White Cooke

Katherine White Baker Cooke ’41, November 28, 2003, in Victoria, B.C., from lung disease. Katherine received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Reed. After graduating she returned to the East Coast, married a merchant seaman, Ed Cooke, and ran a dairy and chicken farm while raising three children. Following divorce, Katherine enrolled at Cornell University, working part time, and earning a doctorate in rural sociology in 1965. After learning about an opportunity for work in Canada, she moved with her children to Ottawa. She worked for the Department of Forestry and Rural Development, received Canadian citizenship in 1969, and also worked for the Department of Regional Economic Expansion. Katherine was appointed president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women two years later. She served as director of research at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, retiring in 1983, after which she moved to Victoria, B.C. In retirement she was active with Victoria’s Bridges for Women Society, and contributed to the Federal Task Force on Child Care. Cooke was considered one of Canada’s leading advocates for women’s rights, and a woman ahead of her time. She was described as being a person of integrity, honesty, and courage, who was passionate about the quality of equity for every individual. Cooke served on numerous professional organizations, including the Social Sciences Federation of Canada, and the Canadian Anthropology and Sociology Association. A recipient of many honors and awards, she received lifetime membership in the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women; honorary life membership from the Victoria Status of Women Action Group; the Governor General's Persons Award; a Woman of Distinction Award; and an honorary doctor of law, conferred by the University of Victoria in 1991, for her "devotion to the service of others." Katherine was fluent in numerous languages and traveled extensively. She is survived by her daughter and two sons, and a grandchild.

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2004

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