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Cook family together, for awhile | Life on Whidbey

“I thought you might write something about two boys who just came back from tours in the desert,” said JOHN COOK. That’s what we are here for, John. And we are glad to have them home.

His son, Air Force Tech Sgt. CHRISTOPHER COOK, 31, just returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq, his sixth in the desert (two in Saudi Arabia and two in Kuwait). When I told John that seemed excessive, he explained Air Force tours run four, five, six and seven months. Christopher is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Next he spoke of his son-in-law U.S. Army Specialist WILL GIECK, 24. “His unit got a little beat up and they lost some of their people,” John said. “They don’t talk very much about it.”

Will just returned from a 15-month tour of Eastern Afghanistan where his main job was vehicle recovery and repair. He is scheduled to go back to Afghanistan at the end of 2009. His unit is attached to Fort Lewis.

Will is married to ASHLEY COOK, 21, and they have a son, LANDON, age 2.

You may have seen Will in an Army recruiting television commercial. He is sitting on a front porch with an older gentleman who says, “You looked me in the eye and shook my hand.”

The Cooks are a resilient family. You’ve no doubt seen John’s pen and ink drawings of Navy aircraft at such places as the Solid Ground coffee house, but he has had a long military career himself, retiring as a U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in 1991. He was working as a contractor in Bosnia when he got the terrible news that his wife Linda was killed in an accident on Highway 20, north of Coupeville. He sped home to care for their four children, two of them in their teens.

Today John and Patsy, his wife of two years, are rocks their children cling to when times get tough. There is always a light in the window to guide them safely home.

Wedding at Waldorf

HELEN BATES and her sister DEE DORN have come back to earth after a four-day romp in New York City. They established base camp at the Waldorf-Astoria, within walking distance of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center and Saks Fifth Avenue. They had lunch at Tavern on the Green and visited their favorite place, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But they were more than tourists. Both were there at the invitation of longtime friend GWEN FRANCIS to attend the formal wedding of her daughter GABRIELLA. The bride graduated from Columbia University a week earlier and groom DAVID FRIDMAN works in finance in New York.

“The Waldorf-Astoria just reeks of its historical past,” said Helen. “In spite of that, our stay was very comfortable.”

The many rituals of the Orthodox Jewish wedding were arranged in different parts of the hotel. Prior to the wedding, cocktails were served in the Park Avenue Terrace and two adjoining rooms. One room was designated the men’s room, the other the women’s room. For the veiling of the bride, the men accompanied the groom into the woman’s room. Then the young bride and groom were accompanied up to the Starlight Terrace on the 18th floor for the actual wedding service. Men sat on one side, while women were on the other half.

Accompanied by a string quartet, the wedding party and their families proceeded down the center aisle to stand under a canopy of white blossoms. Maids of honor were dressed in different champagne-colored Dior dresses.

“Following the wedding ceremony, the 400 guests and bridal party adjourned to the Grand Ballroom for a four course dinner and evening of music and traditional dancing.  “When I left the ballroom around 11, the festivities were still going on,” she recalled. “It was a beautiful experience and one I will always cherish back in the quiet of our island. “

John and Helen shared their news this week, and we’d love to hear from you. Call me at 675-6611 or write to me at lifeonwhidbey@yahoo.com.

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