OBITUARY: JUDGE J. HILARY COOK
Judge J. Hilary Cook, 82, of Markleeville CA passed away on November 21, 2011 at Woodfords CA. Born to William Coburn and Ruth Elizabeth Hedman Cook on July 14, 1929 in Turlock CA. Hilary Cook grew up with older brothers Gale, Jeremy, and Geoffrey, along with younger sister Corinne.
Beginning in 1939 the family summered at their cabin in Woodfords. Hilary graduated from Turlock High School and went on to UC Berkeley, where he graduated in 1951 with a degree in Political Science. Following his active duty from 1951 – 1954 in the US Coast Guard, Hilary attended Hastings College of the Law, graduating in 1958. It was while living in San Francisco and attending Hastings that Hilary met Virginia Louise Dunipace, the love of his life. They were married in Toledo, OH on June 20, 1957. Hilary and “Ginna” enjoyed 54 years together, living in Turlock for 13 of those years and Woodfords for the following 40 years.
Hilary began his legal practice in 1959 in Turlock and soon formed a law partnership with his brother Jeremy. Hilary was District Attorney for Alpine County from 1963 – 1971 and Attorney for the City of Turlock from 1967 – 1969. From 1969 – 1971, Hilary was also attorney for Turlock Irrigation District. Much of his career paralleled that of his father Coburn, who served as Turlock City Attorney for 20 years, Alpine County District Attorney for 7 years, and attorney for TID for 10 years.
In 1971, Judge Cook was appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan to serve as Judge of the Alpine County Superior Court. He presided in that court for 20 years, retiring in 1991. As Judge, Hilary was known for his fair, calm and thoughtful demeanor – and for the bow ties he often wore. He deliberated long and hard in cases involving youth offenders. He was the first judge in the Mono Lake trials, brought by the Mono Lake Committee and numerous environmental groups against the L.A. Department of Water and Power over water diversion and the public-trust doctrine in the Save Mono Lake efforts. From 1977 – 79, Hilary Cook was selected as one of only five Superior Court judges from the state to serve on the California Judicial Council, under Chief Justice Rose Bird. He was appointed to other Superior Courts whenever his Alpine County caseload allowed. Judge Cook frequently worked in the South Lake Tahoe and Placerville Superior Courts … his courts away from home. He proudly noted that he ultimately presided in 45 of the 58 county courts.
Hilary Cook was active in both the Coventry Cross Episcopal Church of Minden and St. Francis Anglican Church of Turlock. He belonged to the Genoa and Turlock Masonic Lodges. He enjoyed his membership in the Turlock Exchange Club, and over the years he was both club president and an area governor. Hilary loved life in Alpine County. He was an avid hunter, and he fly-fished the Carson River behind his house for as long as he was able. He found great joy in his gardens, raising delicious fruits and stunning flowers. Hilary was known for driving black convertibles with white tops, and he didn’t hesitate to take them on dusty, rocky back roads. In fact, his preferred route was always the “road less travelled” as he explored the west throughout his life.
Judge Hilary Cook is survived by his wife Ginna; sons Tim (Sandi) Cook of Turlock CA, David Cook of Jensen Beach FL; daughter Cris (Jacques) Etchegoyhen of Minden NV; grandchildren Dominique (Laima) Etchegoyhen of Reno NV, Karina Cook of Turlock CA, Ryan Cook of Huntington Lake CA; great grandchildren Vytis & Liepa Etchegoyhen, Kacen Cook.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Alpine County Courthouse in Markleeville as well as in Turlock CA at another date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alpine Parents Club Scholarship Fund • 35 Hawkside Dr • Markleeville CA 96120
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