Adeline Cook was a self-made woman and the first in...

Adeline Cook was a self-made woman and the first in her family to attend college. Credit: Cook Family

As the air grew wintry, the Cook kitchen became a confectionery. Weeks in advance of Christmas, Adeline Cook spearheaded a cookie-baking marathon: jam-dotted thumbprint cookies; the classic chocolate chip; light, airy Chruscik, or Polish bow ties; the brown-sugar bar cookies Chewy Noels, nut-filled and dusted with powdered sugar.

The Merrick home that "Addie" and her husband, Roland, created for their four children was warm, full of food and affection. The couple kissed and held hands openly. There were after-school snacks before homework, boiled milk poured over Bosco for hot chocolate and milk-soaked bread for Thanksgiving stuffing.

In the mornings, there were crepes with jam inside and confectioners sugar on top. On the lazy weekend days of her son’s teenage years, there were eggs and bacon.

The two decades Addie Cook spent raising her children were bookended by alternative expressions of ambition and resilience. A self-made woman who defied her parents’ expectations by leaving 1940s Mattituck to pursue higher education, she was the first in her family to attend college. Cook paid her Albany Teachers College tuition with money earned as a golf caddie, a waitress and a soybean picker, and went on to teach English.

"She made this vow that she was going to be something," said her youngest daughter, Robin Jacobsen, of Seaford. And so Addie Cook was.

Around Easter of this year, Cook tested positive for the novel coronavirus. She could no longer taste her food. She stopped eating, even pie and peaches, and grew dehydrated.

In her final days, Cook resided in an assisted living facility in Plainview, her daughters said. She died on May 1 at age 93.

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Throughout her life, Cook had survived several serious medical incidents, including a stroke from which doctors said she would not recover, congestive heart failure, a valve replacement, even a burst blood clot after a cardiac catheterization procedure.

"She almost bled to death in my car," said her daughter Kelly Perkowski, of Bethpage. With her right hand applying pressure to her mother’s femoral artery, Perkowski drove an unconscious Cook back to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

"But she took things in stride like that, you know?" Perkowski said. "She was like, ‘Oh, I survived another thing.’ "

Cook’s determination manifested itself also in her professional life. After putting herself through college, she taught English at Jerusalem Avenue Junior High School in North Bellmore, where she met fellow English teacher Roland Cook. The two had been married 44 years when he died in 2002.

Addie Cook left teaching when she and her husband had their first child, then returned to the workforce in 1979 to start a second career at State Farm Insurance. She worked all the way through her 70s and, had she not needed heart surgery, likely would not have stopped, one of her daughters said.

Led by her Roman Catholic faith, Cook was a voracious reader who lived lovingly and unselfishly. In Merrick, she taught religious education, which included giving instruction on receiving the sacrament of the Holy Communion.

In careful penmanship, she wrote notes and letters to keep in touch with friends. Even in her later years, she would drive herself to a local card store where employees would put out a chair and bring over a selection of cards for her to read.

"For her to do Christmas cards was a major undertaking because she had to write something to everyone," said her son, Kevin Cook, of Summerville, South Carolina. To become tech-savvy was never appealing to her, he added; emails and text messages were "too impersonal."

Addie Cook was small in stature but gave hugs that "enveloped you," Perkowski said.

She had a "warm, sweet way about her," said Tracy Marino, of Medford, Cook’s oldest daughter.

When Marino was about 11, she was out of school for a year for medical reasons. In between trips to doctors, her mother would take her out to lunch or for a new pair of shoes.

"She never showed her fear; it was always her love," Marino said.

After an August morning reminiscing about their mother, Cook’s three daughters visited the Secret Garden tearoom in Port Jefferson without their family’s matriarch for the first time. This visit, in observance of what would have been her 94th birthday, was to be the start of a tradition that will continually honor her memory. When the waitress found out, she set a place for their mother.

Cook was one of seven children and the sole survivor of the siblings. Besides her son and three daughters, she is survived by her children's spouses, Victoria Cook, Arthur Marino, Jim Perkowski and Dave Jacobsen; grandchildren Heather, Russell, Michael, Jessica, Steven, Kristie, Zachary, Chris, Maria, Elenita, Tyler and Kiersten; and several nieces, nephews and godchildren.

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