Margaret Anne (Collins) Cooke of Livermore died Dec.1 due to complications during a surgical procedure. She was 53.
She was born in Riverside, California on Feb. 29, 1963 to Jim and Anne Collins. She was raised in Santa Barbara and graduated from San Marcos High School in 1981.
She wed her best friend, Michael Cooke, on March 22, 1993 in Freeport, California. They lived in Sacramento, moved to Dublin, and finally settled in Livermore.
Cooke obtained her bachelors’ in business administration (1985) and her MBA (1997) from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She was a proud member of the Alpha Chi Omega (A Chi O) sorority, where she fully embraced the sisterhood of Greek life and became forever friends with many women of A Chi O.
Cooke worked at the Sacramento Army Depot for three years as a contracting intern. She completed her internship in the contracting division and earned the Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.
After working at the Army Depot, Cooke began her career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1992. She started in the Procurement Department as a senior subcontract administrator. She cut her contracting teeth working on Brilliant Pebbles, Clementine and other programs. Her career included several years working in support of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) optics facilitation contracting efforts.
She was promoted to manager of the dedicated NIF procurement team, where she faced many significant challenges and opportunities. She later became the head of the Procurement Policy Department. Her most recent position was division manager for the Supply Chain Management Department.
Cooke enjoyed working at LLNL; with all the strange and unique goods and services being procured, she was offered the chance to “think outside the box” on many occasions. The part she loved most was being able to support, mentor, coach, guide and partner with the people that worked for her during her time there. She always had time to talk out issues with her customers and coworkers, trying her best to find a win-win solution when the rules and regulations frequently made that all but impossible.
She and her husband joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore (UUCiL) in February 2009. She became involved in the Religious Education Program (Sunday School) and was a driving force in getting their new playground funded and installed. She attended services regularly and worked hard to integrate families into church activities. Cooke started up the “Second Saturdays” event where families and friends of all ages met monthly at UUCiL to play games or work on crafts while enjoying fellowship along with a potluck dinner.
Her daughter, Piper, born in 2001, joined the Cantabella Children’s Chorus (CCC) in 2013. Cooke was a financial supporter of CCC and attended the Sing a Mile High Festival held in Denver in July 2017.
Cooke was a leap-year baby and enjoyed having a birthday only once every four years. She was particularly pleased to be “younger” than Piper (and much younger than husband Michael).
She had a love of musical theater that started in high school and continued into her adult life. She was a Broadway Series season ticket holder in both Sacramento and Livermore (Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre). She was thankful to be able to attend the pre-Broadway production of "Wicked" in San Francisco with the original cast and recently enjoyed seeing "The Book of Mormon." She was a patron of the arts, supporting the Bankhead Theater, Tri-Valley Rep and Cantabella Chorus.
Cooke introduced her family to geocaching, which is a GPS-facilitated game of hide and seek. She and her family have found caches in nine states, from South Carolina to Hawaii. She also shared her fondness for the geocaching sport with members of UUCiL, in which she led an annual outing for several years.
Cooke loved to travel. She especially enjoyed cruising, Alaska being a favorite destination. Other favorite places that she loved to visit included Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes and Avila Beach. She was a beach girl at heart.
Cooke was blessed to have an abundance of good friends with many longtime relationships tracing back to junior high, high school and college. Her sorority sisters meant a great deal to her, and she stayed connected with many of her A Chi O sisters. For several years after graduation, the gang would meet up annually to eat, drink and catch up on what was happening in their lives. She became good friends with many members of UUCiL, and she considered most of the people she worked with at LLNL to be more than just coworkers. To her, they were friends and family.
Cooke is survived by her husband, Michael; her daughter, Piper; her stepson, Tyler and his wife, Karma; their children, Leo and Lily; her mother, Anne; father, Jim, and stepmother, Sue; her stepbrother, Shawn; and her stepsister, Tami. She was a sister to Michael’s sisters, Angie and Cathi; and his family considered her to be one of their own.
The most important thing in Cooke’s life was her daughter. She was proud of all of Piper’s accomplishments: her strong work ethic, her love of music, the amazing group of true friends Piper has (aka the Squad) and Piper’s stupendous sense of humor.
Her family and friends miss her abundant love of life, positive outlook, sense of mischief and willingness to find the good in people. She always was more than willing to lend an ear or to try to find a way to support those she knew. Her presence and wonderful smile really made her easy to get to know and love.
Cooke’s family would like to thank all who have supported them during this difficult time, including friends, "church ladies, LLNL friends and wine girls." You have made a difference and it is greatly appreciated.
A celebration of life will be held March 3 at Asbury United Methodist Church, 4743 East Ave. in Livermore at 2 p.m. A reception will follow at the Martinelli Center, 3585 Greenville Road, in Livermore. Please join us and share your favorite story with us.
Donations in Cooke’s memory can be made to the Cantabella Children’s Chorus, 5094 Crestwood Court, Pleasanton, California 94566; or the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore Endowment Fund, 1893 North Vasco Road, Livermore, California 94551.