Internado en Inglaterra desde muy joven, la pérdida de sus padres a temprana edad, años duros de trabajo en Oruro, Bolivia, y la lucha cruenta en el frente Asiático, en la segunda Guerra Mundial.
Pero, jamás se quejó y fue un maravilloso padre y esposo. Era querido por todos por su carácter afable, tranquilo y cariñoso. Tenía una sintonía muy especial con las personas de menores ingresos, y un desapego maravilloso por las cosas materiales. Aún, después de más de treinta años de su partida, es recordado con tremendo cariño por todos y, muy en especial, por la gente humilde de su querido Cachagua.
Yo creo que Dios lo premió: se lo llevó joven y de la manera más maravillosa. Tranquilo, durante el sueño.
En este día de su cumpleaños número cien, quiero rendirle un homenaje a nuestro querido viejo, recordando lo que escribió de él, en EL MERCURIO, a poco de su partida, su amigo Lorenzo de la Maza:
"SEÑOR LESLIE COOK MAC IVER
Ha muerto un caballero Británico.
Un buen homenaje a Leslie Cook es reconocer que fue un caballero británico, nacido en Chile, con las muchas cualidades y los pocos defectos de tal. Lo era, no sólo porque sabía usar los cubiertos en una mesa o presentarse en un salón sin las manos en los bolsillos o levantarse cuando llegaba una dama, sino en el mejor y más profundo de su hombría de bien; de su tolerancia con los demás; de su educación y buen modo, que le permitían alternar con igual simpatía con los humildes y los altamente colocados; de su honestidad de pensamiento y actuación; de su sentido del humor y de su falta de pretensiones y vanidad.
Asimiló las enseñanzas de los viejos maestros que obligaban a cumplir las tareas de cada día, azotando duramente con sus varas, si era necesario. Los que enseñaron que el carácter y el buen sentido valen más que el brillo intelectual, y que la serenidad, como dijo el poeta, ante las dos impostoras, el triunfo y la derrota, es lo que distingue al hombre verdadero.
Su hombría y llamados ancestrales lo llevaron a incorporarse al Ejército británico y a sufrir en Birmania la lluvia, el calor, el barro, los mosquitos y el valor audaz de los japoneses. Su modestia era tanta que jamás hablaba de ello, ni de muchas otras cosas buenas que realizó bien y con alegría.
Al rendir este homenaje a nuestro amigo Leslie Cook, rogamos a Dios que las virtudesde las viejas tradiciones, que se hicieron carne en él, perduren en las Islas Británicas e irradien por el mundo, como en otras épocas".
El Mercurio, 11 de Julio de 1979.
Hoy, en su cumpeaños número 100 de mi querido e inolvidable Dad, sólo le pido a Dios que lo cuide mucho, y que me permita a mí ser cada día más como él.
Hoy, Agosto 31 de 2018, algo más de siete años después de esta publicación, hemos querido agregar un recuento homenaje, en Inglés, que escribió mi hermano Anthony sobre la vida y familia de nuestro querido y siempre recordado Padre.
Our father was born in Viña del Mar in a house en Aguasanta Street on June 9, 1911.
He was the eldest of 5; he had one sister, Priscilla and 3 brother, Leonard, Ivon and Teddy.
His early schooling was in Saint Peters School and at a young age was sent to boarding school in England. On the death of his father, a Valparaiso stockbrocker when he was 9, he was brought back to Chile and continued his education in Viña del Mar untill he had to leave school in order to work. The early loss of his father was compounded by the loss of his mother at 21. His younger brothers were taken in by incredibly generous relatives and family friends whose names are now lost to us but to whom the subsequent Cook generations continue to be grateful.
After doing his military service in the Coraceros Regiment, also in Viña del Mar, he joined a British firm, Duncan Fox, working first in Santiago and then in Oruro Bolivia. On his return he joined Thurston S.A. a company that represented various British entities, such as Merlees Blackstone, Hawker Sydley and Metalock.
In 1940, at the age of 29 he volunteered for the British air force, but was deemed to be too old to be a fighter pilot so he joined the British army instead, becoming an officer in a tank regiment. After training in Scotland he was posted to India with a view to engaging the Japanese in Burma.
He was there for four years and being a tank regiment, its assignment was principally to provide artillery support for the ground troops fighting in the jungle areas. Nevertheless, he also saw direct action, principally as a result of Japanese incursions to try and neutralize the artillery support.
The Japanese would post snipers in the forest to harass the tank crews and with a twinkle in his eye my father would tell us of the times he would have to stop an overzealous newly arrived officer, who was putting together a party to take out a particular sniper, and let him know that the Japanese soldier had already been there for two weeks and had yet to hit a single person. If he were to be taken out, he could well be replaced by another one with the aim or desire to do some actual damage!
Amongst his various experiences there, he would tell us about how careful they had to be when taking Japanese prisoners as they often had grenades in their up reaching hands, which they would throw at their captors as soon as they came close enough.
After 4 years and having reached the rank of Major he was finally given leave to go back to England. He was given two weeks notice and he confided to us that they were the longest two weeks in his life!
It would seem that while he was in England the war in the Far East came to an end, but he had to stay several months more in England awaiting an available ship to go back to Chile.
In that period he volunteered on a ship sending supplies to the Soviet Union. On the outbound journey, the ship hit very bad weather and he told us of how one morning he and one other officer were the only passengers to make it to breakfast. We think we have our fathers genes to thank for never having experienced the least bit of seasickness!
After returning from the war, our father rejoined Thurston S.A. where he worked until the day he sadly died of a heart attack in his sleep at 68 on July 7, 1979.
In 1949, he met our mother Oriana Cooper (Ory) and they married soon after, with Terence being born in 1950 and Anthony in 1953.
Both our parents were avid golfers, which lead them to sell their little house in Colon, to rent a house in Las Arañas, next to the Prince of Wales Country Club, and to rejoin the club, which they had left in order to build their Colon house. That decision allowed us to practically "live" at the club where most of our happiest childhood memories were formed.
With time, they bought a plot of land in Cachagua, a recently developed seaside resort, where they built a small cottage, where they would go every available weekend.
Priscilla joined the WRENS where she stayed on after the war, becoming Superintendent and was distinguished by the Queen after many years of service.
Ivon joined the army and was taken prisoner by the Japanese and was held in a concentration camp for four years until freed at the end of the war. Waiting for a ship back to Chile, he was offered passage to Australia where he had been invited by his many Australian camp mates. There he married Myra and they had one daughter Maureen.
Teddy joined the British army and saw action in Europe. His hands were severely wounded, but the doctor refused to amputate several fingers as he was sure that Teddy must be a pianist due to his long and elegant fingers. To our knowledge Tío Teddy never struck a note!
Neither Priscilla nor Ivon ever saw Chile again.