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Joseph Cook


Former Iolan Joseph L. Cook, 63, of Manhattan died Sunday, June 5, 2011, at the home of his sister, Nancy, in Shawnee. He was recently diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic with mesothelioma.
He was born Nov. 16, 1947, in Kansas City, Mo., to Lewis J. and Roberta L. (Foresman) Cook. He was the youngest of four children and grew up in Iola. He attended Lincoln Elementary School, Iola Junior High School and graduated from Iola High School in 1965.
He volunteered for the U.S. Navy and served from February 1966 to November 1969 aboard the USS Richmond K. Turner and the USS Lyman K. Swenson on the West Coast and also spent 13 months in Vietnam.
He was employed for the past 5 1/2 years at Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community as a transportation coordinator. Prior to that, he was an art teacher at Manhattan High School and Highland Community College in Wamego and also worked in the art department and frame shop at Varney’s Book Store in Manhattan. His first job when he was seven years old as a paperboy for the Kansas City Star. From his earnings, he purchased a 1926 Ford Model T and a 1930 Ford Model A coupe, both of which he still owned.
He was an avid reader, especially of history and art. He liked to draw and had completed nearly 1,400 cartoons and caricatures with funny stories about each character which he kept in scrapbooks. He was a blood donor and had donated over 15 gallons of blood during his lifetime. He enjoyed nature and birds and had canaries, finches and lovebirds as pets. He also enjoyed K-State sports and had been a season ticket holder for many years to football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball.
On Nov. 27, 1970, he met his wife, Ronda K. Showalter, in Chanute, and they married on July 21, 1974, in Thayer. They lived in Emporia and Topeka before moving to Manhattan in 1985.
He graduated from Emporia State University with a bachelor of art history and art in August 1978. He began graduate school at Kansas State University in January 1985 and graduated in May 1989 with a master of fine arts in ceramics. He then received an additional bachelor of science in art education in May 1991.
He is survived by his wife of the home; a brother, Robert L. and his wife, Diane, Kansas City, Mo.; two sisters, Jeanne E. Cook and Nancy M. Martin, both of Shawnee; his brother-in-laws, Joe M. Showalter, Thayer, and Ren M. Showalter and his wife, Carrol, Franktown, Colo.; nieces and nephews, John R. Cook and his wife, Kelly, Lewis J. Cook, Jeffrey A. Nelson, Lisa A. Everhart and her husband, Chad, Michele R. Showalter, Mary E. Osborn, Kristen M. Andrews and her husband, Chris, and Cortney J. Showalter; and seven great- nieces and nephews.    
He was preceded in death by a brother-in-law, Charles M. Showalter.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Chapel in Manhattan with the Rev. Devin Wendt officiating. 
Graveside services will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at East Hill Cemetery in Erie with American Legion military honors.
Visitation will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.
Memorials to Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research at KSU or for Mayo Clinic Palliative Care Program, Rochester, Minn., may be sent in care of the funeral home, 1616 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502. Online condolences may be left for the family at


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