Bruce Cooke

Supertopo Post, September 2008

The Bruce in question is Bruce Cooke. Indeed, he did one arms well into his 60's. He and I climbed quite a bit together. He had hip arthritis in later years and climbed very stiffly, but loved it so much he just went with the pain and immobility.

He served on front lines in WW2 hinted at but didn't dwell on some of the horror of horrors he witnessed. He was a blacksmith in Oakland shipyards. He liked to live a lean life. At one point, he gave away his big Oakland house to a young relative staring up her life and moved into a one room hovel holding a hot plate, bed and his super bike. I think he also gave away his car to another relative. Then he moved to a modest two bedroom house in Richmond where, nowadays at least, bullets probably whiz by in the night. He stopped drinking one day after driving up on a road median and cursing himself. Once he set his mind on something, he just did it, like the time he rode his bike from Oakland to Tuolumne Meadows with a load of camping gear. He liked women, but never married - I think he had very high ideals about love and came away from one relationship soured on certain relationship realities. Very painful cancer plagued him to his death, but he enjoyed visitors to the end. He didn't talk much about his condition, just asked how you were doing and liked to share listening to music.

Quite the man. I much loved him. He was best man at our wedding, such as it was - no friends or family, just Bruce with us there in our home. I have a picture of his holding our baby daughter in front of the fireplace. I think he liked the simplicity of how we did it. We were honored to have him there. His entire manner and being helped set us on our way, affirmed our belief in ourselves and our journey, now 30+ years in the making.

Bob Kamps also respected and liked Bruce and they climbed together too. We named a route after Bruce in the Meadows: the Cooke Book on Daff (yes, Cooke is correct spelling).