Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry has hailed the life and work of the late Minerva May Cooke OD, who served for decades as executive administrator to a long line of Cabinet Ministers at the ministry in its various portfolio compositions over the years. Mrs. Cooke, who died suddenly on the afternoon of Saturday January 22, served ministers Ralph Brown, Pearnel Charles, Roger Clarke, Peter Phillips, Robert Pickersgill and Mike Henry over a more than 40-year span of public service.

Minister Henry, who noted the well-deserved conferral of the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD) upon Mrs. Cooke in 2009, for her exemplary and dedicated public service, described her as “having given her very best to her responsibilities within the Transport and Works Ministry under the direction of such a wide array of ministers.”

He said Mrs. Cooke was the consummate professional administrator, whose poise was remarkable, and whose combination of a high level of tact, a cool temperament, and all-round efficiency, found favour with all with whom she worked.

“‘Lady Cooke’, as she was affectionately called by her colleagues, was a woman of class and substance, whose quiet presence was as effective as some of the most imposing figures, allowing her and the ministers she served to benefit more from her diplomacy and style, than from confrontation and hot-tempered interaction,” said Minister Henry. “In fact, for the more than three years she served me, I never once saw or heard of her losing her cool and poise, even under the most demanding of circumstances.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Dr. Alwin Hales, the longest-serving officer among the ranks of the permanent secretaries, said Mrs. Cooke represented a pillar of strength and stability in the ministry. He said her steady and pivotal role across numerous political administrations was testament to her high level of professionalism and commitment to country first. He too expressed condolence on behalf of the ministry, at the sudden departure of the well-loved and respected public servant.

Mrs. Cooke will be laid to rest on Saturday February 19, 2011.