Friend, teacher, brother, son, and husband. Rob was an extraordinary person...
Robert Anthony Cooke was an extraordinary person, friend, teacher, brother, son, and husband. Both passionate and highly accomplished, Rob touched countless lives with his caring and enthusiastic personality as he lived in three countries and traveled through more than twenty – all by the age of twenty-six. Rob defined his life by transcending cultural differences and connecting with people everywhere.
Born in Hyannis and raised in Yarmouth, Rob graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in 2002. He went on to Amherst College, graduating summa cum laude four years later and completing a double major in German Studies and Philosophy. Rob was selected as a cultural ambassador under the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and, after college, went across the Atlantic to teach American culture near Bremen, Germany. While in Germany, Rob met his future wife, Kate McCrery, and together they traveled throughout Europe and Asia before returning to the Cape to work and to marry. They soon headed overseas again to teach English– this time in Busan, South Korea. Tragically, Rob suffered a heart attack while hiking in Busan and passed away on May 16, 2010. He was only twenty-six years old, but he had seen more than many people experience in three times as many years.
Rob had many avid interests. He taught himself guitar at age nine, became Massachusetts' youngest real estate agent on his eighteenth birthday, and was captain of his sailing team in college. He spent many hours playing guitar with family and friends on Cape Cod beaches. However, Rob mostly loved to travel. For him, traveling was more than a hobby; it was a vocation. He sought not only to educate others while abroad, but also to reflect on and improve his own knowledge by learning from all the new people he encountered. While in his senior year of high school, Rob met his best friend Fedja Hilliger, an exchange student from a small town near Bremen. Rob visited Fedja numerous times in Germany, and their deep friendship inspired what eventually became Rob's lifelong dedication: reaching out across cultural divergence to form relationships and mutual understanding among people at home and abroad.
The Enlightened One
by Jeffrey Howell
He sits in the back of the classroom,
Waiting for a turn to speak
Without seeming to preach
Waiting for a time to say
Without giving it all away.
Waiting for a time to go.
Without working a show.
Waiting for a time to try
Without yelling goodbye
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Then up shoots the hand, the Enlightened One's
fingers stretching politely to the sky, or, at
least locally, to a water sprinkler in the ceiling.
The name called, the voice too soft, too proud
but still his own.
And having spokes leaves all aroun dhim mystified,
Except the teacher, who smiles knowingly.
Hello, myself, He says, Nice to meet you again.