Lengthy legacy for Cooks

Jim and Patty Cook possess the passion for hard work, family and the outdoors. There are great lessons in the stories of these tenacious people, and perhaps their humble way of sharing their life is the greatest of all.

Jim and Patty Cook possess the passion for hard work, family and the outdoors. There are great lessons in the stories of these tenacious people, and perhaps their humble way of sharing their life is the greatest of all.
MEEKER I It seems like a broken record to say that the people who were brought up in the 1930s and ’40s and started their families in the ’50s or ’60s were hard working, but the truth is they had to be in order to survive. They knew nothing else but to work hard and devote time to their family, and that is certainly the case with Jim and Patty Cook of Meeker.
Jim moved to Meeker with his family around 1947 when he was in his teens. He was one of many children brought up in a working family, and he simply went to work when he was old enough. He began working at the lumber yard, and doing construction work, then worked for the county plowing snow. He was hired by Ross Construction out of Vernal to plow snow for the oil fields and then started his own fencing business. He worked extremely hard in a time when building fence was all manual labor … no skid steers with automatic post pounders, or even four-wheelers to stretch the wire … just shovels to dig the holes, and his family helping pound staples. In fact, he cut cedar posts and firewood in the winter months to make money for the family, and then used the posts come spring. He and his wife and children would leave as soon as school got out and live all summer in a camper on jobs for ranchers like Pat Johnson who needed fence built. They would only go to town for groceries and such and then right back to the job. It was a good life for them, camping until school started back in the fall.
Jim loved to hunt and leased the Grady place to guide hunts. He was passionate about his hunting and it was handed down to his children who all hunt today. He was a very successful hunter and has a buck killed in Smith Gulch and bull harvested on Oak Ridge that made the Boone and Crockett Record Book. He obviously knew the land and was diligent in the work and the pleasure of hunting. He also had hounds for hunting mountain lions and one large lion he killed hung on their living room wall, a tribute to its size and the effort it took to hunt the animal.
Patty (Rector) Cook was born and raised in Meeker. Her parents were Earl and Erma Rector and they handed down a strong work ethic as well. Earl worked construction and was employed by the county for several years. Erma worked for the school lunch program and the sheriff’s office to help the family make a living. Patty grew up in town for the most part and remembers there being a show hall and more shopping areas in town but she enjoyed working alongside her husband the most. She loved camping and the outdoors and did her share of the hard work. She said, “I put in staples and worked right alongside of Jim a lot.” They began fencing in the early 1960s and Patty said Jim continued the work until a few years back. The two would take their four girls with them to camp and work and it was a time she truly enjoyed. In their room hangs a framed collection of some of the many arrowheads they collected while out building fence. She said they had three other collections in frames and one coffee table full of the beautiful pieces. She added that when she would stop and think about the life that the people of that time lived, it was amazing. The fact they had no grocery stores or amenities, just the outdoors to live on. During their time in the vast country they worked, they also saw the poles left in trees to hold teepees of the Indians traveling the land, and at the time she said there were a lot of arrowheads to be found if you had an eye for it. Her children still hunt for them but they are far more scarce now and protected as well.
Jim and Patty were married on May 8, 1950, and had five children. They lost their son in an accident when he was only 8. They have four daughters: Dona (Ron) Hilkey, Barbara (Ken) Pelloni, Jamie (Karl) McGruder and Mardy (Butch) McAlister. They all hunt still and the passion for hard work, family, and the outdoors is evident in their family. Dona is an exceptional photographer of wildlife and outdoor beauty, Barbara and Ken have the Valley Repair here in town, and Mardy and Jamie both have families that enjoy the outdoors and hunting. Jim and Patty have eight grandkids, and 10 great-grandkids who, with the exception of grandson Jason, all live in the Meeker or Rangely area. This makes it so nice to have family around. They are still very involved with all their children’s endeavors and continue to go to sporting events of their great-grandchildren’s.
Patty holds tight to some cherished jewelry. One necklace she got from her mother and later spotted in a picture of her paternal grandmother; a beautiful turquoise ring she was given in high school, and a ring with elk teeth in it Ken designed and made for her. It is obvious where her love lies, for her family and the hills she was always in working alongside her husband. The two have been together nearly 63 years now and have clearly made a life that revolves around each other and their growing family. The walls of their room are filled with pictures of the children in their life and it seems fair to say, “Those that work together, stick together.”
It seems overwhelmingly obvious that tough times built tough people, people with a strong sense of priority. Everyone that knows Jim speaks of his hard work building fence and how his family was there with him during all the trying years. No doubt it made for tired nights and weary mornings, but the fact was, they just got up to go again the next day. There are great lessons in the stories of these tenacious people, and perhaps their humble way of sharing their life is the greatest of all. Time and time again these triumphant tales come to life as they were to them, just the way it was, but to this generation, they are the backbone of all that was great, and perhaps could remain with a little more dedication to work and family.