Donald Edgar Cookman was born on February 19, 1929, in Anacortes, Washington, to John and Florence. He was the second of three children. Don’s first language was American Sign Language, as both parents were hearing impaired.
His father died in a drowning accident when Don was six years old, and he spent the remaining years of his childhood with his Grandmother Hollenbeck, and later his paternal Aunt Irene and her husband, Peter Burton.
At 18, he joined the Merchant Marines. Upon his return, he followed in his grandfather’s footsteps working as a logger in the Anacortes area.
In 1951 he was drafted into the United States Army to serve in the Korean Conflict. Before leaving, he married his first wife, Melita Roskoph in Eureka, California. He worked for the next several years tending trees running a tree service, as a logger, and for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter.
He and his family lived in Panama for a year where he logged among the Choco Indians with his good friend and partner, Hank Lambert. When he was forced to abandon that endeavor due to illness, he and his family relocated to Rosebud, Montana, where he lived until the final year of his life.
In Montana, he worked as a heavy equipment operator, plumber, logger, and maintenance man. Don was also known for his tiki carving, love of animals, ready willingness to care for the sick, and his optimism and friendliness.
Don was preceded in death by his parents; his aunt and uncle; his brothers, Clifford and Thomas; his sons Donald Jr. and Kenneth; his wife Margaret; his partner, Norma Nelson; and numerous friends and relatives.
He is survived by the current family patriarch, son Thomas (Lavonne) Cookman; daughter LaNell (Russell) Johnson; son Robert Nichols; daughter Mary (Paul) Kunst; son John (Kasey) Cookman; son Jefferson (Samantha) Cookman; and son James (Sarah) Cookman, and many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
The family wishes to express their profound gratitude to the nursing staff at the V.A. Community Living Center in Miles City, where he spent his final days; and to the doctors and nurses of Billings Clinic and Holy Rosary infusion centers who cared for him in his final year.