Kermit James Cook, age 91, of Chambersburg, passed away at the Menno Haven community on June 22, 2022.
He was born on March 10, 1931, in Plainfield, NJ, the first child of the late Mary J. and Kermit L. Cook.
Being born in 1931 meant experiencing the worst of the Great Depression, and even much later in life, Kermit was grateful for the simple blessings he did not always have as a child.
In his high school years, he went out for football and played on the defensive line, only to discover that his poor eyesight made him an easy mark for opposing offenses, since without his glasses he could not tell who had the ball. The vision issue also kept him out of military service, much to the relief of his parents – and his future family.
Kermit then undertook academic pursuits, which were much more to his liking, briefly attending the University of Chicago and later Drew University in New Jersey. Those efforts ended, however, when he met Lois Bechtel, whom he married in 1955 and with whom he started a family the next year.
After working a series of jobs to support his young family, Kermit hired on with The Record newspaper, the largest evening paper in North Jersey at the time. He started out as a proofreader – this was long before spelling and grammar checkers – and retrained into several other positions as technology evolved. This was not the easiest career, as he sometimes had to work nights or make other schedule adjustments depending on the newspaper’s publication deadline. There was also the inconvenience of getting to work in the snow and ice – the newspaper had to publish! Despite these challenges, Kermit was very proud of his role in getting the news out every day to the waiting public.
In what little spare time he had, Kermit showed a flair for projects, helping his son Dan to build some complex (for Dan) models and, in one case, climbing a tree to install an antenna for Dan’s “crystal radio” kit. In another example, he used Styrofoam and some other simple materials to construct a topographical model of his stepfather’s extensive property holdings in Maine.
Kermit also helped out at his stepfather’s nursery and florist business in New Jersey, and he retained a deep knowledge of plants and gardening for the rest of his life.
Kermit and Lois took special pleasure, after their children were grown, in vacationing at a campground in southern New Jersey. Following their retirements, they spent entire summers reading, swimming, chatting with neighbors – all without a TV on the premises.
Kermit and Lois eventually took this lifestyle on the road, purchasing a camper and taking it to California and back, among other trips. For many of these years, they were accompanied by Annie the poodle, whose idea of “a dog’s life” was to hitch a ride in Kermit’s arms – which he willingly provided.
Above all, Kermit was a man of faith, worshiping regularly with Lois and always including Bible study in his schedule. In New Jersey, Kermit taught Sunday school for several years, helping young people see the value of a Christian life in the midst of the turbulent 1960s and 70s. When his children were young, he read them passages from Psalms as their bedtime stories.
He and Lois continued to put their Christian values into practice through volunteer work – especially after arriving at Menno Haven, where they spent hundreds of hours visiting residents of the nursing center and staffing the “country store.”
As Lois’ health declined in her later years, Kermit was her rock and support. He spared no effort to care for her at home, and when, finally, she required a move to the nursing center, he faithfully spent his entire day with her – for more than three years. His devotion to Lois truly knew no bounds.
Kermit is survived by his son Daniel (Heather) and daughter Cheryl (Chris), as well as his grandson Andrew. He also leaves his dear sister and brother, Nancy Mooney and Kurt Von Graff.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Lois and his cherished sister Nancy Jacobs.
Visitation for Kermit will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at Sellers Funeral Home, 297 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg, PA, 17201.
The Funeral Service will begin at 2 p.m., with Pastor Brenda Doyle officiating.
Burial will follow the service at Norland Cemetery, 2295 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg.
Memorial donations may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation online here.
Online condolences may be expressed at the funeral home’s website.