TORRINGTON – Our father, Ferd Cook, 96, left his earthly life and entered his heavenly one on Nov. 30, 2019, at the Goshen Healthcare Community, where he had been living since July 2016.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, at the First Congregational Church with the Rev. Matt Gordon officiating. Cremation will take place following services.
Memorials may be given to the First Congregational Church or the Lingle Fire and Rescue.
Visitation will be Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the funeral home and the casket will be open prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are by the Colyer Funeral Home and condolences may be sent to www.colyerfuneralhome.com.
Ferd was born May 22, 1923, in Frankfurt/Oder in a refugee camp, where they had been waiting for an opportunity to board a ship to America. Along with his parents, Alexander Koch and Maria (Yekel) Koch, his grandparents Jacob and Anna (Weitzel) Koch, and uncle Emanuel Yekel, and aunt Katharine Yekel boarded the USS Seydlitz in Bremen, Germany, in October 1923.
They arrived in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 1, 1923. From there they traveled by train to Scottsbluff, Neb., to meet up with Yekel relatives who had arrived in Nebraska before them. Ferd grew up and attended school in Minatare, Neb., until he was twelve years old. During that time his sisters Frieda, Erma and Kathryn and brother Theodore were born.
In 1935 his father packed up the family and moved his shoe and harness shop to Torrington. Ferd attended school through the eighth grade before he left home and rode his bike to Mitchell, Neb., where he stayed with his uncle Alex and aunt Katherine Sterkel’s family. The Sterkel’s drove him to Batesland, S.D., and he spent his teen years with his grandparents Jacob and Anna Yekel.
He worked in the North Platte River valley during the growing season and returned to his grandparents in the winter. Ferd had many friends among the Pine Ridge Sioux and he had a generous heart with them.
During the potato picking season of 1941, he met his future wife in a potato field in Goshen County. She was picking and he was loading and hauling the potatoes. According to Ferd, his marriage proposal was made by throwing a potato at Frieda Henkel and missing her but hitting her mother. Consequently, a rapid marriage took place on Dec. 9, 1941. During the early years of their marriage they worked for Charlie Jones in the Huntley community. On Jan. 31, 1943, their first son, Ronald Leroy was born in Torrington. When Ron was still a baby, they moved back to Batesland. Ferd rented dry land wheat farms and he tried his hand at farming on his own. Daughter, Patricia Kathleen was born on June 20, 1944, and another son, Robert Allen, was born on Nov. 23, 1945. By this time his wife wanted to return to the North Platte Valley to be nearer to her Henkel family. Thus began a lifetime of working sugar factories, car repair shops, welding shops, hauling sugar beets and wheat. He worked for John Walter, Alex Sterkel, and Joseph Speckner.
Mr. Speckner eventually realizing that Ferd had a huge desire to own his own piece of property, vouched for him to local lenders and helped him get set up renting the Henry Wagner farm west of Lingle. It was 1958, his kids were old enough to help him and his wife Frieda work the farm. He eventually bought the Wagner place and was one happy farmer. Our father was a good farmer, weed free crops and ditch banks, straight rows and good harvests.
His wife Frieda passed in May 2002. After Frieda was gone, he enjoyed many wonderful friends at the Lingle Senior Center. In July 2016 he entered the care center and spent the rest of his days wishing for the old days, wanting to go home to the farm, but also knowing he couldn’t do that.
Ferd is survived by his children: Ronald (Helga) of Torrington, Robert (Betty) of Lingle, and Patricia (Dick) Fullmer of Gering, Neb.; six grandsons: Steven Fullmer, Michael Fullmer, Ed Fullmer, Rick Cook, Chris Cook and Rob Cook; two granddaughters: Katja Cook and Julene Cook; 11 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; sisters Frieda Kettler of Loveland, Colo., and Kathryn Hart of Torrington; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.