Sam Cooke, well-known Hawaii philanthropist, dies at 78

Published: Dec. 4, 2015 at 12:51 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2015 at 4:56 AM HST
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Mary and Samuel Cooke
Mary and Samuel Cooke

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sam Cooke, a business leaders and philanthropist, died Wednesday at his Manoa home.

Cooke was a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he served as a financial advisor to influential business and nonprofit leaders.

His passion, though, was serving the community and philanthropy.

He served as the chairman of the board of trustees of the Honolulu Museum of Art, chairman of the board of the Hawaii Community Foundation, president of the Cooke Foundation and founding chairman of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii.

In addition, he served in various capacities on a number of other civic and philanthropic institutions in Hawaii.

"If you consider the institutions that Sam helped to create and nurture in Hawaii, his civic legacy is unsurpassed," said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO at the Hawai'i Community Foundation. "Everyone admired Sam for his wisdom and generosity but it was his remarkable humanity which inspired people to follow and emulate him. He was a warm and funny guy, one of the great storytellers of his generation."

In recent years, Cooke and his wife Mary have been dedicated to the preservation of the historic home built by his grandparents over a century ago. The Manoa Heritage Center is devoted to preserving and educating the public about Hawaiian culture, the protection and propagation of native Hawaiian plants, and the history of Manoa Valley.

During his lifetime, Cooke received many awards for in recognition of his efforts, including two from the Aloha Chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives, and was declared an Outstanding Living Treasure by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii in 1999.

A celebration of Cooke's life will be held on January 16 at 4 p.m. at Central Union Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Manoa Heritage Center.

Cooke is survived by wife Mary; daughters Julie, Cathy and Edi, along with grandchildren Sam and Zoe.

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