Virginia has lost a long-time Byrd Machine Democrat House leader
John Warren Cooke, a former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and the last son of a Confederate veteran to sit in the General Assembly, died Saturday at Palace Green, his home on Put In Creek in Mathews.
The 94-year-old Mathews native, born when his father was 76, was the son of the Rev. Giles Buckner Cooke, an Episcopal priest who had served on the personal staff of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, and Katharine Grosh Cooke.
Mr. Cooke served as House majority leader and speaker of the House during his years in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly:
In a House dominated by Democrats, Mr. Cooke, a pillar of the Byrd organization, did the unheard-of: He named a Republican, Del. Arthur R. "Pete" Giesen Jr. of Waynesboro, to the powerful team of House budget negotiators, which he termed "a matter of fairness."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
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