By Pat Wilson
Courtesy of The Central Virginian Online, January 20, 2005
The William A. Cooke Foundation has jump-started the fund-raising efforts of the Louisa Downtown Development Corporation.
“The mission of the foundation is to support the residents of Louisa County through scholarships and grants for local purposes. This facility is a great opportunity for the town of Louisa to bring cultural activities and other activities for residents,” said Wallace Tingler, chairman of the board and president.
With a pledge of $40,000, the directors of the non-profit group will help fund the renovation and furnishing of the executive conference room in the future town hall.
“It is because of the benevolence of private foundations, like the Cooke Foundation, that will make this possible,” said Town of Louisa Mayor Charles Rosson. “It is a strong statement that the foundation has become involved in this project. Mr. Cooke meant a lot to this community – a mayor of the town and fire chief. To have his foundation support this project, it resounds a lot into the community about the value of the preservation of the former school.”
Since the charitable foundation was organized in 2002, the directors have awarded $403,000 in scholarships to students in Louisa and Orange counties. Also, the foundation has provided grants in excess of $300,000 to local organizations such as the Louisa Little League, The Montpelier Foundation, the town of Gordonsville and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
The foundation’s nine board members and a volunteer staff administer the grants and scholarships.
Cooke opened his first law office on Main Street in the town of Louisa during the 1920s, and then added a second practice in Madison County, along with serving as a substitute trial justice for 58 years.
The attorney was a member of the Louisa Fire Department for over 70 years and helped organize the Louisa Fireman’s Fair. He belonged to almost a dozen associations, clubs and religious organizations.
During the Great Depression, when land was selling at bargain prices and on easy payment terms, Cooke began what grew into a successful real estate business.
“During his 97 years [1904- 2001], Cooke believed in honesty, integrity and fairness. Both he and his wife, Alma, dedicated their lives to helping others and by the foundation, they continue to fulfill those aspirations,” states the foundation webpage.