Pauline Blanton Cook died Tuesday, February 20, after a brief illness. She was 92.
Polly, as she was known to family and friends, was born in Kentucky. She often described a happy childhood on a small tobacco farm as the eldest of seven children. She walked to a tiny schoolhouse where she was a star student who could recite reams of poetry. With two adventurous brothers she played in the woods, fields, and streams and visited grandparents who lived down the lane. She left home when she was eighteen to live with an aunt and uncle in Cincinnati and work in their jewelry store before going to business school in Chillicothe, Missouri, for two years. Along with many other young women in her school, she was recruited to work as a secretary for the government in Washington, D.C. for the war effort.
There she met a handsome young U.S. Marine Sergeant named John Ralph Cook, and in 1943 they began a marriage that continued for 63 years. After his service in the Pacific, the young couple settled in Lexington, Kentucky. After another stint in the Korean War and finishing an engineering degree at the University of Kentucky, John was hired by DuPont. In 1952, Polly and John moved to Camden with their 3-year-old daughter, Janis.
Polly was a classic American homemaker who entertained guests with her terrific cooking, her knack for conversation, and a spiky wit. Always a stylish dresser, she made most of her own clothes and sewed for her daughter. She was a member of the local garden club and a busy shoolchild’s mother. She took up golf in her 40s, groaning and laughing her way through many rounds at the local courses. Polly was a very active member of the First Baptist Church and made many of her best friends there.
In 1977, Polly embarked on the most exotic experience in her life when John went with a group of other DuPont engineers to start up a textile plant in Iran. They lived in Isfahan until the revolution began in 1978. On their return to Camden, John retired and the two began to travel often and far afield in the states. Great traveling companion, they took off in their small RV to explore large swaths of the country; frequently to Upstate New York to visit Janis and her husband, Joel Rosenkranz.
After John’s death in 2009, Polly moved to Morningside. Throughout her three years there, she was steadily visited by Peggy Jernigan, who, along with her husband Jim, were dear and faithful friends. She lived with contentment, spending her time reading and playing her favorite game of Scrabble. A lover of words, she never missed the State paper crossword or jumble. A superb letter writer, she maintained informative and entertaining correspondence with family and friends throughout her long life.
Aside from Janis and Joel, who reside in Manhattan, Polly is survived by her brother Dale of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and her sister, Betty Howard, of Shelbyville, Kentucky.
There will be a graveside service at 12 p.m., Wednesday February 22, 2012, at Quaker Cemetery. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Polly’s name to the South Carolina Wildlife Fund.