John “Jack” Cookman

Born in Mason City, IA
Born on Sep 26, 1928
Departed on Jan 26, 2024

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John “Jack” Victor Cookman, 95, of Mason City passed away Friday, January 26, 2024, with his family at his side.

A visitation will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024, at the Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home from 9:30AM until service time at 11 AM with the Certified Celebrant, Dr. James Coyle officiating. A Celebration of Life for Jack is being planned for his Mason City family at a later date.

Jack was born on September 26, 1928, to Victor and Alice (Wolske) Cookman in Mason City. 

At the age of 6, Jack contracted bulbar polio and was paralyzed on the entire right side of his body with aspects of the disease remaining his entire life. However, because of his strength, determination, love of sports and desire to keep up with his older brother Joe, he overcame the paralysis. He attended Mason City High School (Mohawks) and became an outstanding athlete, excelling in three sports. He was a two-year letter winner in football and basketball, and a three-year letter winner in baseball – his first love. During his junior year, he held a pitching record of 16-1 and won two state tournament games as the Mohawks won the state championship. They finished second during his senior year. After graduation, he signed a contract with the New York Yankees to play ball in their farm league for three years, and also wound up playing the inagural season for the Cedar Rapids Rockets baseball team in 1949. As a southpaw, Jack once pitched both games in a double header after upsetting the team’s player-coach, a story he loved to tell. In 2018, Jack was inducted into the Mason City High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

After his baseball career, Jack started working for the Mason City Police Department in the parking enforcement division. He then moved to Cedar Rapids and became a very successful businessman and entrepreneur, starting his own security company.

Jack met the love of his life, Mary Abodeely, and they later married on Sep. 29, 1949 in Iowa City. He was essential in raising his stepdaughter, Barbara, who became a big part of his sisters’ lives. Jack and Mary shared many wonderful years together traveling, going to casinos and dog and horse races. He helped raise his grandchildren and great grandchildren and lived his life for them, all of which are cherished memories.

Jack loved weekend coffee and sweets at his parent’s home which later was carried on with his siblings. He also spent a lot of time at his parents’ cottage in Clear Lake and thoroughly enjoyed teaching his grandchildren how to fish. Later in life, he moved into Legacy Manor in Mason City and enjoyed morning coffee with his friends.

Jack was one of the most selfless men on the planet. He was widely recognized as one of the nicest men you’d ever meet and had a positive influence on everyone he touched. He will be missed dearly.

Jack is survived by his granddaughters, Tammy Schladetzky and Renee Farah; great grandson Zach Schladetzky (wife Gina and great great granddaughter Zita) all of Cedar Rapids; sisters Betty Luedeman of Cedar Rapids; Mary Helen Meyers (Doug); Ann Staley; Dorothy (Dutch) Hepperly all of Mason City; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. 

Preceding him in death are his parents, Victor and Alice; wife, Mary Cookman; brother and sister-in-law, Harry Joseph and Lucile Cookman; stepdaughter, Barbara Farah Ryan; brother-in-law, Robert Staley and Gary Hepperly; grandson, George Farah, Jr.; second wife, Marge Bobek; and special friend, Jean Heinz.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be directed to the Mason City High School Athletic Hall of Fame at in Jack Cookman’s honor.